Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Campaign to save Cultra Station ready to depart


North Down Alliance Councillor Larry Thompson has welcomed news that a secure future may be on the horizon for Cultra Station House.
Currently owned by Ireland's 'bad bank' NAMA, the old disused Railway building has fallen into disrepair in recent years and is now on sale for a fraction of its original value.
Alliance Councillors Larry Thompson and myself have continuously campaigned to save the local landmark - have recently learnt of a potential purchaser who, if successful, plans to restore the building, using it as a residential site.
Councillor Larry Thompson said: "Since becoming aware of the building's current plight I have been working with Councillor Andrew Muir, Holywood Conservation Group, local residents and others to save this historic building, which faces a bleak future if not saved soon.
In the last few weeks I was delighted to learn about the unconditional interest being shown by a potential purchaser who seeks to acquire and restore the building for residential use. A condition Survey has been commissioned and bid for purchase made despite the building's dilapidated state.
After reading the Condition Report, which outlined the dire state of the building, I was particularly pessimistic, but news from NAMA provides a glimmer of hope that the campaign to save Cultra Station House may soon be ready to depart."
Through my contacts at The Dail I have sought to expedite the sale and am glad to report that, despite initial problems, NAMA now report that a 'competitive sales process is being conducted' and parties are 'in further negotiations'.
I now understand that these negotiations are in a final stage and whilst I accept NAMAs statement that 'the final sale price will have to reflect independent assessment of market value' sale possibilities seem positive."
Cultra Station on 9th November 1957 Photo from Downpatrick and County Down Railway
Readers can keep up to date on the campaign by visiting Save Cultra Station House Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SaveCultraStationHouse.
Condition report
The Condition Report, conducted as part of the sales process, outlines some of the issues affecting the building after lead valleys and artificial slates were stolen and it was allowed to fall into its current state. The report makes the following conclusions;
Cultra Railway Station consists of a single storey station building and attached two storey stationmasters house located within a popular and much sought after part of Co. Down close to main arterial routes into Belfast City Centre.
The property is listed, however, it is evident that a large number of alterations have been carried out in the past which would likely not have been approved if the property was listed at the time the alterations were carried out namely the removal of the chimney stacks, the replacement of the original roof covering with artificial slates and the fitting of uPVC rainwater goods.
The property is in an extremely dilapidated condition with holes to the roof where lead has been stolen, dampness to chimneys due to a lack of lead trays, some movement to external walls, significant dry rot throughout the property, poor plaster, poor ceilings, significant dampness to walls, and dated services. The entire property will require complete gutting should any future use be considered.
It is the opinion of the author of this report that given the level of refurbishment necessary to the subject property for any future use following refurbishment it would likely prove more economically viable to demolish and rebuild the property. However due to the listed status of the building this is unlikely to be possible.
It is considered essential that the property remain fully secure due to the health and safety risk associated with the property where no balustrading exists, dry rot exists to first floor areas and where much asbestos appears to exist.
From 'A Letter From Ulster' supplied byDownpatrick and County Down Railway
Cultra Station House was built in 1897 assumed to be designed by G.P. Culverwell. The property is built in typical decorative red brick late Victorian fashion. The property consists of a listed building partially two storey and partially single storey positioned to the side of the railway tracks at Cultra. The two storey portion of the property was originally living accommodation for the station master and the single storey portion was the area for waiting, ticket collection and other areas associated with a railway station.
Property has been a private dwelling since at least 1937 and in private ownership since 1957, vacated 1970s when it fell into disrepair, vandalised and used for anti-social behaviour.

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