Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Muir welcomes plans to save Stewart's Place Holywood

1 Stewart's Place in derelict state
Lacuna Developments has been confirmed as new owners of 1 Stewart's Place, Holywood who have described the building as a "key gateway to the seaside town's High Street" and committed to works to get the road re-opened and building secured. The site acquired includes the former Old Priory Inn and 1 Stewart's Place, a listed building.

In response, I have welcomed the news. After relentlessly campaigning on this issue since structural problems started to appear in June last year I warmly welcome news the new owners plan to take prompt action to get the road re-opened and hopefully save the historic building which is perilously close to collapse after years of neglect by the previous owner.  
I have already made contact with the new owners and hope to meet with them in the weeks ahead along with representatives of Holywood Conservation Group to discuss the way forward. With a structural engineer from London with a conservation background, project architect, conservation architect and planning consultant already engaged and the new owners seemingly willing to make the necessary investment I am cautiously optimistic that Holywood traders will soon be able to get back to business following months of needless disruption which has also inconvenienced local residents and visitors alike.

A more hopeful future also seems at last be ahead for the listed building which ought to be in the same condition as its nearby twin Number 3 Stewart's Place which is in pristine condition following previous intervention when also at risk of downfall. Time will tell whether it can be saved.

Managing Director, Anthony Best has stated:



 "The derelict buildings have become an eyesore, and the road closure has been a nuisance to the whole town of Holywood. We have engaged early and positively with both Ards and North Down Council and Historic Environment Division, and have recently submitted a listed building application for structural works to be undertaken. We started work last week, and we will invest £40,000 to secure the listed building with appropriate scaffolding and propping. Work has also begun to re-open the road at Stewart's Place and should be completed within the next 2-3 weeks. If possible Lacuna Developments plan to retain the listed building and, subject to detailed survey work, integrate it as a feature of any future scheme".

Anthony Best continued: "We want to integrate the building and site back into the town. The building at no.1 Stewart's Place was listed as one of a pair in the mid-1970s. No.3 was restored in 1993 as a residential building, but prior to our purchase no.1 had fallen into a poor state of repair. We are currently undertaking the necessary surveys and working alongside Ards and North Down Borough Council to agree a way forward."

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