UUP Councillor Richard Holmes has welcomed a new initiative by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and Department for Communities to restore historic buildings.
The Departments will be assisted in this pilot scheme by the NI Architectural Heritage Fund.
Welcoming the scheme, Councillor Holmes has said,
“This is a welcome new initiative and whilst I’m disappointed none of the four trial schemes are in Causeway Coast and Glens, I am nevertheless heartened to see such a scheme in place in Northern Ireland” Cllr Holmes said.
“I raised the issue of funds to support historic building renovation works at a recent Rural Development Programme Strategic Forum. To my great delight the forthcoming pilot scheme was outlined at the meeting.
“Our rural towns have a plethora of historic buildings in need of repair. The renovation of the Imperial Hotel site in Garvagh is very welcome but we see in Kilrea the historic Mercer Arms now has safety fencing to protect from falling masonry.
“These are land mark buildings and the Mercer Arms harks back to a time when Kilrea was a wealthy trading hub. Many small towns have similar stories and landmarks.
“The cost of maintaining these buildings has become prohibitive for many and I’ve been critical in the past of capital spend being wasted on projects less worthy than our historic buildings.
“I will watch the pilot scheme with interest and hope to see a wider scheme rolled out whilst our historic buildings are still standing.”