The condition of the surviving buildings within the Boom Hall Estate range from precarious to relatively stable, experts have informed local people during a recent public engagement.
Experts from Coey Architects, who were commissioned to conduct a close-quarter structural inspection of Boom Hall; its stable block and walled garden masonry, delivered their findings to those gathered in The Guildhall for the public consultation last week.
The two information events on Thursday followed on from the appointment of the conservation architect-led specialist consultant team back in the Summer 2018.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ during the evening event, Alastair Coey from Coey Architects, who were commissioned by Derry City & Strabane District Council to undertake the assessment, said the remaining three remaining buildings sit within the context of an 18th century designed landscape.
Mr. Coey said the condition survey has now been undertaken, with a Conservation Management Plan expected to be published in the next few weeks, following on from the public consultation events.
“The condition survey involved using a 50 tonnes crane to lower us into the centre of the buildings. They are too dangerous to enter so the idea of having a crane basket is that we can actually survey it without getting out of the basket.
“Boom Hall, the main house is stable. It’s in terribly bad condition but it is not going to get any worse in the immediate future in terms of collapsing. The stables on the other hand are in an extremely fragile condition.”
He added that the large Walled Garden structure was in a reasonable state but that two sections of it had been re moved in the past to facilitate water treatment works and were not replaced.
Mr. Coey stressed that their commission wasn’t to do anything to the buildings.
“We are only reporting on the present state of things and the decisions that will be made will be made some time in the future,” he said. “The next stage the council has to reach is to instruct us to go ahead with the enabling contract, but that must be approved by the council. The next stage will be simply stabilising everything.”
This involves stabilising the buildings and dealing with trees causing damage, weather proofing, placing historical features into safe storage which the plan is to store them in a dedicated facility on site.
The council has stated that work has been progressing in relation to the production of an integrated conservation management plan for the council-owned estate, incorporating both the historic buildings and their surrounding landscape. Karen Philips, the council’s Director of Environment and Regeneration, said: “Council is fully committed to the regeneration of the Boom Hall Estate as a key heritage and recreational asset for citizens and visitors. We are delighted to be working with the consultants on this project and to afford the public the opportunity of an update on this important project,” she added.