Givan to work with Council to safeguard historic arson target, Herdman’s Mill

The historic Herdman's Mill at Sion Mills Co-Tyrone, opened in 1835, has been the victim of arson. (Picture Margaret McLaughlin �)
The historic Herdman's Mill at Sion Mills Co-Tyrone, opened in 1835, has been the victim of arson. (Picture Margaret McLaughlin �)
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Communities Minister Paul Givan says he recognises the significance of the 19th Century Herdman’s Mill in Sion Mills and that he will work with Derry City and Strabane District Council to “secure the future for this important listed building.”

Officials at the Department have been in contact with the local authority over the important heritage building, which was damaged by arsonists last month.

“The council has also been trying to work with the owner to secure the site and protect the Mill from further damage,” said Mr Givan.

“In addition, I understand that Council officers have visited the Herdman’s Mill site, following the recent fire, to assess the situation and consider appropriate actions,” he added.

Replying to an Assembly Question from SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan, Mr Givan said his Department does have the power to vest if reasonable steps are not being taken to preserve a building.

However, he said it would only do so if a willing partner from the voluntary sector were to come on board to manage a listed site.

This isn’t the case with Herdman’s Mill, however.

“My Department has the power, under the Planning Act, to compulsorily purchase a listed building, if it appears to the Department that reasonable steps are not being taken for properly preserving it.

“Guidance explains that the Department has always sought willing partners in the voluntary sector as a prerequisite for such action.

“Such partners need to be willing to take on responsibility for the building, and have the advantage over a government organisation to access grant aid from various sources.

“In the case of Herdman’s Mill, no organisation to date has been able or willing to take this on.

“My officials recognise the significance of the building, and continue to engage with the local council and other interested parties to secure the future for this important listed building,” he said.