Lochside Garage

Plans to transform Necarne could come to nought

THE hold-up on a planned development of Necarne Estate, seen by many locals as the ‘jewel in the crown’ for Irvinestown is causing some concern with the local community.
It has been reported that the historic nature of the castle, as well as the estate’s rich woodland and wildlife, are restricting plans to develop it.
Gardrum Holdings, owned by Dromore man Derek Keys, won the contact to lease the estate just last year after the Council put it out to tender.
Gardrum have been holding talks with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and the Department of Communities, Historic Division about developing it.
Jenny Irvine, manager of Arc Healthy Living Centre, said, “It was a very ambitious plan that was presented and it did look a huge opportunity for recreational and economic use. I do believe that the people that came were very much from a business prospective so they were looking about trying to make this happen in a realistic time-frame.
“They were very keen and people could a almost see this development in their mind’s eye. I do understand that there is due process and that it is an important site and there is a lease.
“I definitely get that. I understand that planners aren’t being obstructive, they have a role to fulfil and not suggesting for a minute that they shouldn’t do that.
“But it is in terms of the whole perspective of the site and the opportunity.
“The concern is that if there are too many difficulties it may not happen. I understand that the planners want to be sensitive to the venue.
“People hold Necarne with huge affection. They really do. It is an important site.
It’s 400 years this year since the establishment of Irvinestown in1618. Whatever you feel about the plantation, communities around became dependent on the Big House for economic growth and there hasn’t been any of that in the last 300 years and I think potentially it is a jewel in the crown for tourism in the area.
If there could be some meetings of minds to find way forward. It is sensitive.
When you look at our town and the community, the industries in our town have gone, so we really are looking at things like tourism. Industries have gone and the replacement industries aren’t coming in to replace.
Paul Cassidy, treasurer of Irvinestown Community Partnership said local people were hoping that new developments at Necarne would transform what could become a prize asset for the town.
“The proposals, as outlined by Gardrum, are new and exciting for all users of Necarne.
“ It would give much needed life to a beautiful estate which has been lying neglected for years.
“Their proposals also ringfenced the public’s right to access the estate for walks and that which was always a major concern if Necarne was to move across to private control.
“Necarne needs investment urgently and we have seen that the required investment will not come from the public purse so a private investor with the “right vision” is exactly what is required.
“I think with goodwill on all sides that we can arrive at a viable conclusion which will see Necarne re-energised and fulfil the undoubted potential that everyone knows it has.


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