Muir leading change to secure future of Holywood’s Historic Buildings

North Down Alliance Councillor Andrew Muir is reporting significant progress to secure the future of key Historic Buildings in Holywood which are at risk due to their current state of disrepair.

After being contacted by members of Holywood Conservation Group the Alliance Councillor has been working hard to save Stewarts Place near the Priory, Holywood and has now gained agreement from government to take action if the building isn’t repaired in the near future.

Cllr Muir is also reporting progress in relation to Cultra Railway Station House with both North Down Borough Council and NI Environment Agency taking action to ensure this historic building is secured and restored rather than being allowed to rot.

Commenting on Stewarts Place, Cllr Muir stated “With the help of local Alliance representative and Conservation Architect Larry Thompson we have been Leading Change by helping to secure significant progress to Save Holywood’s Built Heritage. After being contacted by representatives from Holywood Conservation Group I contacted the NI Environment Agency (NIEA) and it now seems that NIEA are now pursuing the owner of Stewart’s Place with vigour.

A programme of works to repair the building was agreed at a site meeting a few weeks ago and, if not implemented, formal action will be considered. After recently exposing the fact that only two Urgent Works notices have been issued across the province in the last ten years I am pleasantly surprised to learn that NIEA are considering serving a Urgent Repairs Notice if the site owner doesn’t comply with the agreement reached concerning repairs.”

Cllr Muir also remarked “We are very fortunate to have Holywood Conservation Group (HCG) within the Town. HCG are an extremely active and effective group who have been campaigning alongside Ulster Architectural Heritage Society to save Stewarts Place for many years. Without them the matter wouldn’t have been put on the agenda nor the progress achieved to date. More areas across Northern Ireland need such groups which shine a light on real issues of concern and undertake effective lobbying to save buildings before it’s too late.”

Commenting on Cultra Railway Station, Cllr Muir remarked “Members of Holywood Conservation Group also recently contacted me concerned about the state of Cultra Railway Station with the building insecure and fast falling into disrepair. I quickly responded to these concerns with prompt action taken by both North Down Borough Council and the NI Environment Agency. Council officers liaised with the site owner and the building has now been secured.

“As a result of lobbying by groups such as Holywood Conservation Group NIEA now also advise that a grant from the Historic Buildings Unit for re-development of Cultra Railway Station is active and the tender process will soon be complete. I welcome this news and look forward to seeing work commence soon to save Cultra Station House.”

Concluding, Alliance Holywood representative Larry Thompson stated: “Protection of our Built Heritage not only makes areas more attractive but also helps create jobs and build strong communities with many listed buildings now providing Social Housing.

“I therefore welcome the developments in relation to Stewarts Place and Cultra Railway Station and call upon NI Environment Agency to continue their positive constructive approach with regards to these and other buildings. Every £1 spent on Historic Building Grants delivers £4.7 elsewhere. Now is the time to invest in our past to create a strong economic future.”

Stewart’s Place, Holywood

Thought to have been built about 1840 by William Lowry, nos. 1 and 3 Stewart’s Place are named after the first post-master of Holywood, Hugh Stewart. Forming a pair of three-storey stucco houses with rounded corners, they were listed in the mid-1970s, and are located within the recently designated Holywood Conservation Area. No.3 was restored by Hearth Revolving Fund in 1993, but, its neighbour, no.1, is currently in a poor state of repair. HB Ref No: HB23/20/020 A

Cultra Railway Station

A red-brick former station and station master’s house of great character, thought to have been designed by G. P. Culverwell and built in 1897 to serve the Belfast & County Down Railway. Although the railway line still functions and Cultra remains one of the halts, the station house has been vacant and increasingly overgrown and vandalised since the early 1970s. However, the entire site was recently been sold at auction and all surrounding vegetation unceremoniously removed. A Building Preservation Notice was served on the building in June 2007 and it has duly been listed as being of special architectural and historic interest. HB Ref No: HB23/18/059

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