Heritage-led regeneration to be transformational for Armagh City

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Pictured at The Archbishop's Palace, Armagh are (from left) Council Chief Executive Roger Wilson, heritage-led regeneration expert Leonie Oliva and Lord Mayor Councillor Julie Flaherty

One of the UK’s foremost experts in heritage-led regeneration has said Armagh will be given a huge boost by the council’s plans to transform the city’s historic centre.

London-based Leonie Oliva, who has spent 25 years advising on complex planning projects and major planning applications for public and private-sector clients across the UK, said the £6.3m investment by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council in conjunction with the Heritage Lottery Fund will be transformational for the city’s economy.

Led by the Armagh City Townscape Heritage Partnership, the five-year regeneration project will see up to 30 iconic and underused buildings within the city’s protected conservation area brought back into full productive use, creating jobs and boosting the local economy.

The Senior Director at commercial property agency GVA said: “Renowned for its Georgian architecture, the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland has a rich history and an extensive range of heritage buildings reflecting its past. It will benefit immensely from the townscape heritage initiative that was launched by the Council earlier this year.

“Finding long-term economic uses for vacant, disused buildings is critical to sustainable heritage-led regeneration and the city is now focused on this. The Shambles Market and Armagh Gaol, in particular, represent great opportunities to bring the city’s heritage to the forefront creating new economic, social and physical value.”

She was speaking after visiting the city as the keynote speaker at an event in The Archbishop’s Palace, Armagh to mark the Council’s return to MIPIM UK in London later this month – the UK’s largest property and investment conference – where council leaders will further their mission to attract investment and promote economic regeneration across Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough.

There are also plans to regenerate Lurgan’s historic town centre, with £2 million being awarded in support of the Council’s proposals to restore and revitalise buildings within the town’s conversation area.

Lord Mayor Councillor Julie Flaherty said: “Leonie’s experience is particularly relevant and her insights into the impact of heritage-led regeneration have certainly re-energised our vision for the borough – not only through schemes outlined in Armagh and Lurgan – but right across the borough in coming years.

She continued: “We are committed to working hand-in-hand with investors to help identify gaps in the market where our joint input can be most effective. We will work as hard as we can to overcome the challenges which exist with the knowledge that we, as a Council, are custodians not just of heritage sites but also of the built environment borough-wide.”

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council will be attending the MIPIM UK event in London on October 17-18.