Derry’s iconic Northern Counties building is to be transformed into a boutique hotel and restaurant thanks to a £780,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, announced today.
The Northern Counties is the first project in the UK to secure a confirmed grant from an innovative new grant programme from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), designed to stimulate local economic growth by unlocking the commercial potential of unused historic buildings and sites.
Through the new Heritage Enterprise grant programme HLF has awarded £784,000 to the Inner City Building Preservation Trust (ICBT) which plans to turn the vacant building into a boutique hotel and restaurant, creating 45 jobs, providing training opportunities and boosting the city’s tourism potential.
The new grant programme is designed to help when the cost of restoring important buildings is so high that without additional financial intervention, putting it back into use would not be commercially viable. It is specifically funding vital repairs and conservation works to the Northern Counties building, converting it into the safe, usable and inspirational space required for a boutique hotel.
Helen Quigley, managing director of the Preservation Trust said: “We’re thrilled to have secured this funding and really excited about breathing new life into what is one of the city’s great buildings. Derry has a great architectural heritage, and bringing the Northern Counties back into use will boost the economy, provide jobs and help tourism.”
The Northern Counties on Bishop Street is a Grade B1 listed building which was built in 1899 and is a well known landmark in the city centre. For many years it was a private members’ club, and a base for the city’s business and civic leaders.
When the club closed it housed offices for a time before becoming vacant in 2006.
Northern Counties is now on course to be restored to its former glory and take pride of place as one of the city’s finest buildings. This latest restoration project consolidates previous and on going work on other historic buildings in the London Street and Bishop Street area.
The boutique hotel will act as a catalyst for the further development of the heritage tourism that has been developing in Derry and marks yet another significant investment of HLF funding into the city.