Northern Ireland’s longest established buildings preservation trust, Hearth Historic Buildings Trust, working in partnership with the Co-operative Enterprise Development Agency (CEDA), has benefitted from a Project Viability Grant from the Architectural Heritage Fund to allow them to establish a Community Benefit Society for the Riddel’s Warehouse project in Belfast.
Built in 1865, and designed by Thomas Jackson and Son, for John Riddel and Co. ironmongers, Riddel’s is a unique tangible link with Belfast’s industrial heyday. The warehouse is B+ listed and behind its polychrome brick interior lies an extraordinary 5-storied atrium, with storage areas all around, from where Riddel’s products were distributed. The building was owned throughout ‘The Troubles’ by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and served as a security ‘buffer zone’ for Musgrave Street Police Station. Hearth acquired the building in 2013, against strong competition, thanks to a loan from Ulster Garden Villages. The Trust availed of another Project Viability Grant from the AHF in 2014 to help it to carry out initial feasibility work.
Hearth has been testing and developing plans for co-working and arts spaces, which have already proven to be in great demand during the meanwhile-use phase, using funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Resilient Heritage programme. The establishment of a charitable community benefit society will enable the project to be run as a social enterprise, serving the broader interests of the community.
Hearth Committee member, Marcus Patton, said:
“The grant is very useful at this stage of the project, enabling us to fully explore and set up a community benefit society as a mechanism to deliver our project.”
AHF CEO, Matthew Mckeague, said:
“This is a truly iconic historic building and securing a new use for it essential to its long term future. We are very pleased to be supporting this partnership with a Project Viability Grant and supporting the partners to work up the next stage of their ambitious plans.”
The Architectural Heritage Fund is a registered charity, working since 1976 to promote the conservation and sustainable re-use of historic buildings for the benefit of communities across the UK, particularly in economically disadvantaged areas.
We are the leading heritage social investor and the only specialist heritage lender operating in the UK. We provide advice, development grants and loans.
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