MAINTENANCE work has got underway at Armagh Gaol as the proposed project to transform the building into a boutique hotel shows no signs of progress.
It’s understood the current stalmate at Stormont is the biggest stumbling block in the efforts to deliver a jail-themed hotel for the city centre.
Now repair work has got underway to ensure that the historic building doesn’t begin to crumble before the hotel can be built.
Ulster Unionists, Alderman Jim Speers and Councillor Sam Nicholson both expressed their concerns at the hold-up on the hotel, stating that more hotel beds were vital for the city to grow its tourism potential.
“I have raised my concerns numerous times about the impact the delay of the hotel project is having on the Armagh Goal building which dates back to 1780,” said Mr Nicholson.
“We are now approaching another winter and that is not good for any vacant building. It was clear to me that the delay in the project was causing problems within some of the existing building elements such as the roof and walls which were continuing to fall into a state of dilapidation because of damp and water ingress.
“Thankfully these issues will be addressed as we all recently witnessed the erection of the scaffold at the front of the Goal by local contractor Moss Construction NI Ltd who the Council have commissioned to carry out much needed works to the Gaol building”
“These works are part of the £2.5 million investment by council in their Armagh linkages projects which includes a range of areas and themes including public realm, façade improvements, landscaping, refurbishment of key buildings and properties, removal of redundant security features and improvements to key city centre arrival points, visitor orientation, gateway improvements and pedestrian linkages. It is only right that these maintenance works were included considering the historic importance of the Gaol building and its proximity to the glorious Mall.
“This project also will also include works which are conditioned on the planning approval of the Goal Hotel project. Again these are very important in order to secure the planning approval for moving forward with the hotel project.
“Unfortunately due to the current impasse at Stormont funding from central government has not been forthcoming and we may have to do this without them. As a Council we are all still fully committed to work along with the Osbourne Group and the Princes Regeneration Trust to deliver the Armagh Gaol hotel project and create this much needed accommodation within this unique hotel in our city centre.
“As Councillors along with our Council officers we are doing all in our power to try to find a mechanism to help draw down the funding necessary which will resolve the current financial impasse and allow this project to proceed.