The Inner City Building Preservation Trust (ICBT) has officially received £784,000 to turn the vacant Northern Counties building into a boutique hotel and restaurant, creating 45 jobs, providing training opportunities and boosting the city’s tourism potential.
The building is the first project in the UK to secure a confirmed grant from an innovative new Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) programme designed to stimulate local economic growth by unlocking the commercial potential of unused historic buildings and sites.
The new Heritage Enterprise 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.
Paul Mullan Head of Heritage Lottery Fund NI said: “We are extremely proud of Heritage Enterprise. We launched the programme in conjunction with new research that showed rather than a hindrance to growth, historic buildings and historic quarters are the very places where new ideas and new growth are most likely to happen. “Commercial businesses based in the historic buildings of our major cities are more productive and generate more wealth than is the average for all commercial businesses across the whole economy.”