Almost £2 million has been awarded to help regenerate the centre of Armagh City, bringing disused buildings back into productive use and creating jobs.
As Armagh I revealed in October, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council had submitted a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to help finance a programme aimed at regenerating the economic heart of Armagh.
The local council has now received a letter of offer from the HLF under its Townscape Heritage initiative.
A total of £1.98 million has been awarded and Armagh is one of nine towns and cities across the UK to be awarded funding.
The money will see the repair and re-use of up to 30 buildings, create 20 jobs and five new businesses as well as securing 10 jobs and four existing businesses.
And Armagh I understands the old Dunnes Stores site on Upper English Street will be redeveloped as part of the overall project.
This comes after we also reported earlier this month that over £5 million had been spent by the Department of Social Development over the past five years on specific regeneration programmes in the city centre, including the public realm works.
Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Darryn Causby, has welcomed the award.
“This will enable us to build on the excellent work already completed in the city,” he said.
“Armagh has a rich built heritage and the funding will help restore and enhance this culture for future generations.”
Paul Mullan of HLF said the plans would “play an important role in regenerating the city’s commercial core, restoring its economic heart and opening up its unique heritage for both local people and visitors to enjoy”.
Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan has welcomed the windfall.
The Armagh representative said it would be hugely beneficial to plans to revitalise the area.
“This is a fantastic windfall for the city and will really compliment other regeneration work that is going on,” he said.
“We also recently saw £750,000 in funding from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure awarded to the Aonach Mhacha project, which will form a key part of plans to regenerate the area and will bring a whole new vitality to the city centre.
“I have also received assurance from the Employment and Learning Minister that plans for a new building for the Armagh Southern Regional Campus are well underway and remain a priority for his Department.”
Newry and Armagh MP Mickey Brady echoed his party colleague’s statement.
He said: “Armagh is a city steeped in the unique history and culture of Ireland and I’m sure this funding will be put to good use, not only in preserving and protecting its past but in securing its future.”
Townscape Heritage is a grant-funding programme under which the HLF support schemes led by partnerships of local, regional and national interests that aim to regenerate the historic environment in towns and cities across the United Kingdom.
Together with other organisations, they contribute to a common fund which is managed by a partnership to allocate funds towards conservation work on individual projects – and support a range of activities that encourage involvement in the built heritage and improve understanding and enjoyment of it.
The Armagh City Townscape Heritage Project would regenerate the economic heart of Armagh City through the restoration of historic buildings.
It would, councillors have been told, include the delivery of an exciting programme of complimentary activities to ensure that everyone who lives, works or visits Armagh City can enjoy, experience and learn about its unique and wonderful heritage.
The project will enhance the visual appearance and the physical, economic and social conditions of the Armagh Conservation Area.
And as the project is located within the Conservation Area, that is a principal qualifying condition of the Townscape Heritage programme.
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