Experts to decide future of ex-base

Experts to decide future of ex-base

12 July 2017

AN economic appraisal of the old Downpatrick police station site is being carried out ahead of a council decision on purchasing the land.

The Irish Street building has been earmarked for a community-run hotel by the Downpatrick Community Collective, who hope the council can purchase the site and transfer it to the Collective in what is known as an asset transfer. It would then run as a social enterprise.

They believe the listed building presents a significant accommodation opportunity for tourists and is likely to attract heritage funding.

Downpatrick Community Collective first went public with their idea in November and this week Newry Mourne and Down Council confirmed it was making a decision on whether or not to purchase the land.

A council spokeswoman said: “The PSNI own the site of the former Downpatrick Police Station. Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is aware that it intends to sell the site but has received no further update.  “The Council is seeking tenders for consultants to carry out an appraisal of the site and its potential for development. This will assist the Council in making a decision on how and whether to purchase the site or not. The study will look at the options within the context of potential linkages to other development opportunity sites in the town centre.

“The Council is working with Transport NI and the Department for Communities in relation to the site. The Council has also held meetings with Downpatrick Community Collective who is pursuing the the potential of a Community Asset transfer of the site for a project it is working on.”

In response to the council’s statement. the chairman of Downpatrick Community Collective, Dan McEvoy, said the group remained positive about the outcome.

“We met with the council in June and understood they were bringing forward a survey on the commercial viability of the site,” he said. “We understand there is a process to go through.”

Should the survey results be positive, Mr McEvoy said his group, who have registered their interest in the old station with the PSNI, want to be the “lead runner” in developing it.

“The PSNI want to hear back by September/October,” he said. “After that they are going to put it back on the open market. We hope the report will be completed by that stage. We think they will meet that target and the PSNI themselves have been quite flexible.”

Mr McEvoy said they hoped to hear as soon as possible on the result, with significant work required on a number of heritage funding applications.

“We remain positive about the council process,” he said. 

“We believe there would be a lot of restrictions for any private developers with a listed building on this site.”