Muir raises concerns over future of historic North Down building

Alliance MLA Andrew Muir has raised concerns after a historic building in North Down was put on the market by owners, after lying in a dilapidated state for many years.

Andrew Muir North Down

Craigowen Lodge in Bangor was designed by Thomas Turner, a pupil of Sir Charles Lanyon. A tin roof is now in place after an earlier arson attempt and fire. It was originally purchased for a roads widening project which never occurred.

Attempts to get the property passed to the Hearth Historic Buildings Trust charity with a view to rescuing the building and proceeding with a restoration of the listed building in 2011 failed. Since then, a planning application was approved in 2017 but no works have commenced and the approval has now expired. The building is presently owned by Clanmil Housing Association.

“I have been campaigning to save Craigowen Lodge for well over a decade, pushing hard for action ever since I became a Councillor back in 2010,” said North Down MLA Mr Muir.

“Progress has been sadly slow and hopes raised but then dashed when purchase and planning approval was gained but restoration works failed to commence. Having been inside the building last year, it was clear Craigowen Lodge is in a sorry state – boarded up, with a tin roof and increasingly dilapidated conditions internally, I worry it could soon be gone for good if works don’t quickly commence to restore the listed building.

“I am conscious a key impediment to securing restoration has been the costs involved and shortage of grant funding. Therefore I lobbied the Charity Commission to give approval to transfer the building at a lower cost, taking into account the conservation deficit. Transfer would have occurred to a local charity specialising in saving listed building but I am now informed this is not an immediate option and an attempt must be made to conduct sale on the open market.

“Real worries now exist the historic Gate Lodge could be snapped up and left to go to into complete ruin, facing a similar fate so many beautiful listed buildings have faced, involving collapse and demolition with part of our past then lost forever. I am therefore urging current owners Clanmil to place a condition of sale upon the transaction that planning is obtained and substantive works commence before it’s handed over. We cannot let Craigowen Lodge wither, decline and decay any longer.”