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Thursday, 10 June 2021

Muir pushes for progress over restoration of historic Craigowen Lodge

North Down Alliance MLA Andrew Muir has met with the owners of the historic Craigowen Lodge to push for progress in restoration of the Listed Building in Craigavad situated right beside the busy A2 Bangor to Belfast Road.

Craigowen Lodge, Craigavad, in 2016
 

Designed by Thomas Turner, a pupil of Sir Charles Lanyon, Craigowen Lodge was built in 1851 in Italianate style but has been left in a dilapidated state for many years with a tin roof now in place after a fire arising from an earlier arson attempt. A B1 Listed Building, it was originally purchased for a roads widening project which never occurred.

Commenting on the issue, Andrew Muir MLA stated “Craigowen Lodge is a beautiful building steeped in history but has sadly been left to fall into disrepair to the extent it’s now boarded up and left languishing on the Built Heritage at Risk Register. I was delighted when Hearth Housing Association intervened back in 2011 expressing an interest in acquiring the building with a view to restoration and have been campaigning hard to see that realised.

Andrew Muir MLA at Craigowen Lodge in 2021

 A Planning Application was submitted, approved and purchase completed in early 2017 but, since then, despite promises to then embark upon works nothing has materialised with planning approval now expired. The building is presently owned by Clanmill Housing Association after merger of Hearth Housing Association and Clanmil in December 2016.


Keen to see restoration take place I have been in regular and sustained contact with Clanmill to discuss barriers to progress and lobbied both the Housing Executive and Department for Communities to give much needed grant assistance but to no avail. First I was told it was due to rules that could only be amended by a Minister and then, with a Minister in place, further reasons thrown up why funds can’t flow.


It’s little wonder listed buildings are allowed to fall into ruin with current lacklustre response from government in Northern Ireland. Often it seems we only care about our Built Environment when beautiful structures from our past are either in imminent peril of collapse or lost forever.


My recent meeting with Clanmill Housing has however left me more encouraged that action to get the building restored to a beautiful home may be on the horizon with the Board of Clanmill soon to discuss and hopefully agree a plan push matters forward. I will continue to engage with Clanmill as these discussions develop powered on by a passionate desire to ensure the lovely lodge is restored its original glory.


I will also keep pushing both the Communities and Finance Ministers to release more funding to save this and other historic buildings across Northern Ireland which risk being lost forever without much needed grant assistance”


Craigowen Lodge Built Heritage at Risk Register Reference HB23/16/001 B Approved Planning Permission at W/2015/0049/LBC, since expired.