Village Catalyst Pilot case studies

From 2019 to 2022 the Department carried out a pilot project with the Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) to explore the benefit of investing in historic buildings at risk, in small rural settlements, as a way of tackling rural poverty and social isolation. Four projects were supported.

About Village Catalyst Pilot

Funding for the pilot was provided from DAERA’s Tacking Rural Poverty and Social Isolation initiative (TRPSI). DfC administered the scheme, and the AHF identified the potential candidates and worked with them to develop suitable proposals.

The support offered covered the shortfall between funds gathered for a project and those required to deliver it (up to a maximum of £200k).

The candidates were selected through the AHF’s work with community groups to develop proposals for underused historic buildings. DfC has supported this work since 2017 through the Regeneration Stream of the Historic Environment Fund.

Case studies

Gracehill Old Post Office

Gracehill Old Post Office

Gracehill village is the only remaining intact Moravian settlement in Ireland. The listed former post office in the centre of the village has been converted to a B&B as a training facility for people with learning difficulties and autism to help them realise their full potential, in partnership with the NOW group and Mid & East Antrim Borough Council. This has given the building a new purpose which will sustain it, while giving back to the community.

Pat Murphy’s House, Ederney

Pat Murphy’s House, Ederney

The Pat Murphy House sits in the heart of Ederney and has historically been a social focus in the village.  Ederney Community Development Trust have worked on the restoration, extension and adaptation to the previously ‘at risk’ listed building to provide a new community wellbeing hub. The building will also function as a tourist wayfinding facility for local heritage and interest sites and a coffee shop, with lettable spaces for health and wellbeing in the main building and the extended accessible outbuilding to the rear.

The Woolstore, Caledon

The Woolstore, Caledon

The Woolstore was a vacant building in the conservation area, built in the early 1800s and used to store raw wool for the vast Caledon Mill.  The community was keen to restore the building as a tangible link to the industrial past and coupled with Caledon Regeneration Partnership identifying a need to provide childcare facilities within the village, the  restored and extended building has now delivered for the community.

The Chandlers House, Rathfriland

The Chandlers House Rathfriland

The listed former bank occupies a key position on the market place square within the village.  The repair and adaptation will provide community space and social housing in conjunction with Northern Ireland Housing Executive; four apartments will be provided within the building and a ground floor community space in the former banking hall with connected outdoor space bringing further benefits for the rural population.

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