‘You were the organisation that made it happen!’
Thanks indeed, from Maureen McAuley, a member of Glenarm Buildings Preservation Trust, Ballymena, County Antrim who recently paid back a loan from the Architectural Heritage Fund marking the completion of the finance part of their restoration project.
The Old School site in Glenarm has been transformed to provide a craft visitor workplace where anchor tenants, Steensons design, manufacture and sell jewellery. It is also now the site for the Glenarm Visitor Information Centre where the group offer unique heritage tourism activities and guided walking, developed with the assistance of Heritage Lottery Funding. There is also coach & car parking now available directly along the Coast Road, a signature tourist route.
The group applied for a £50k loan facility in the final stages of the building work which filled a VAT refund gap over the last two years. Maureen explained, ‘The loan facility took pressure off the project at an important stage of the work and without it, things simply wouldn’t have happened.’
'Andy Richardson from the AHF loans team came all the way from London to look at the area and took time out to understand the context of the wider impact of our project on the whole community, which was amazing. He could see the vision.’
‘The AHF was there when I couldn’t get banks in Belfast to come and see the potential. The AHF showed faith and challenged others to do the same!’
Andy Richardson, Investment Manager at the AHF said, 'The loan we provided to cover the upfront costs of several aspects of the delivery stage of the project is an example of how a cash injection at a key time can help a project to make a timely start, rather than having to wait until all other funding streams are in place.
The AHF is often the only option for projects because the finance required to move things along is often at far too early a stage for mainstream lenders to be comfortable with. The AHF has forty years of experience of understanding the unique needs of such developments and can provide flexible, bespoke loan facilities for a variety of purposes.’