Heritage experts visit Derry to help community groups save the buildings they love

Ros Kerlsake.
Ros Kerlsake.

Community groups in Derry have been invited to attend a roadshow in the city next week aimed at saving old buildings and allowing them to be reused for new purposes.

The Brick regeneration roadshow will provide top advice to community groups on saving the buildings they love including heritage experts from The Prince’s Regeneration Trust (PRT).

The former Waterside Railway Station. 2001JM65

The former Waterside Railway Station. 2001JM65

There are currently around 500 buildings and monuments of architectural and historic interest at risk and suitable for restoration in Northern Ireland, according to the latest figures from the Built Heritage at Risk Northern Ireland Register.

The total includes 25 buildings at risk in Derry and its suburbs, including the early 19th century Learmount Castle and Old Waterside Train Station, built in 1852.

The workshop is being held in the Inner City Trust offices at 31-33 Shipquay Street, from 10am to 4.30pm.

This building houses both the offices of the Trust and one of its skills projects – The Fashion and Textile Design hub.

The Grade B listed building, built in 1741 as a customs and excise house serving the nearby port, is one of Derry’s most historic buildings.

However, in later years, the property fell into disrepair and became a building at risk. The Trust intervened and acquired the building in 2013.

Following a major refurbishment by the Trust supported by Northern Ireland’s Department of Social Development and Department of Environment, the building is now restored.

Its current use as both Trust offices and a support centre for the city’s textile sector is a fine example of how heritage-led restoration can contribute to economic regeneration. Exactly what the BRICK workshop is promoting.

Helen Quigley, the Trust’s Managing Director, is a key speaker at the workshop where she will talk about the building’s restoration.

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, who will be speaking at the event, said:

“Derry is full of remarkable historical buildings with the potential to spark regeneration in the communities where they sit.

“However, far too many of these buildings are in danger of being lost forever through neglect.  In Derry and its suburbs alone, there are 25 valuable historical buildings at risk.

“Community groups can play a vital role in taking on the revival of these important local assets. I would urge any community groups from Northern Ireland interested in a heritage regeneration project to seize this opportunity to learn from experts, network with other similar organisations and be inspired to move their vision forward.”

The workshop features presentations by experts, interactive group sessions and networking opportunities, covering topics such as partnering with the private sector, securing funding and engaging with the local community.

The speakers include:

Manus Deery, Acting Director, Northern Ireland EA Historic Environment Division, talking about local government reform in the province and its impact on heritage-led regeneration

Ben Greener, Policy Advisor at Heritage Lottery Fund, presenting on its Heritage Enterprise Scheme to support the redevelopment of historic buildings

Leading Scottish planner and urbanist Kevin Murray, Director of Kevin Murray Associates, talking about community engagement in planning

Other speakers include representatives of the crowdfunding platform Fundsurfer and Derry City and Strabane District Council’s regeneration team. The workshop also includes a tour of the venue.

The workshop can be booked by calling 020 3262 0560, or go to: http://www.innercitytrust.com/