A five-year scheme aimed at regenerating historic buildings in the village of Richhill has been extended for another year.
And a number of other initiatives are also being planned – including a new book charting the history of the County Armagh village – to add to the work undertaken by the Richhill Buildings Preservation Trust.
The Trust – in partnership with the former Armagh City and District Council – had previously received an approved funding application by the Heritage Lottery Fund for a townscape heritage initiative scheme.
Similar funding has just been secured for Armagh city.
The funding for Richhill was granted in 2009 and, over the life-time of the programme – from 2010-15 – much has been done.
But now an extension of the programme will see more work undertaken at a number of key properties along the village’s Main Street.
The townscape heritage programme is for schemes which help communities improve the built historic environment of conservation areas across the UK, with an ultimate aim of regenerating disadvantaged historic areas for the benefit of local residents, businesses and workers, as well as visitors to the area.
The scheme in Richhill – led by the local Buildings Preservation Trust – provides financial incentives to property owners within the village to restore buildings of historical and heritage merit.
The total grant offered by HLF for the scheme was £747,000.
And now the Heritage Lottery Fund have approved a final year extension, which will additional and outstanding projects under the programme to be completed.
These will be funded through a combination of HLF grant, partnership funding and contribution from the owners.
The largest of the three remaining projects is at numbers 36-38 Main Street, and the redevelopment would cost close to £260,000.
Armagh I revealed in January that the iconic properties were in line for a major make-over – with plans for a ‘Men’s Shed’ included.
Both are listed buildings and fall within a conservation area and the plans will be in keeping with the village appearance.
No 36 is currently vacant. Part of the ground floor was used as a hairdressing salon, but closed in October past. The upper floor provided residential accommodation but again was last used about five years ago.
The adjoining property at No 38 has provided office accommodation for the charity ‘Out of the Shadows’.
Plans were submitted to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council for restoration and redevelopment at both and a decision is due shortly.
If approved, the existing rear extension at No 36 would be demolished and replaced with a new extension. Alterations would see a change of use on the ground and first floor levels to provide office accommodation, with the creation of a new apartment on the second floor.
The rear extension at No 38 would also be demolished and replaced and again alterations planned.
There would be proposed car parking to the rear of the properties, with associated site works, and a proposed Men’s Shed.
It is fully expected approval will be granted, allowing work to move on site and the restoration completion date target is January 2017.
Before that, two other properties are to be enhanced.
Work at No 45 Main Street/1 The Square is due to complete by June this year, and at 43 Main Street, a somewhat smaller programme of restoration should be finished next month.
At the same time, a series of complementary initiatives will also be delivered over the course of the final year, including the publication of the ‘Story of Richhill’ and the hosting of the Richhill Harvest Fayre.
In total, over £342,000 of grant assistance has been spent to date.
A further £404,000 has been committed to the remaining projects, as well as the publication of the book and the Harvest Fayre.