Antrim Castle Gardens Restoration & Development Scheme has been announced as a winner at the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Northern Ireland Awards.
The scheme won the Tourism & Leisure category beating stiff competition from several other shortlisted entrants from across the country.
As well as it becoming an established tourist attraction, the project has also reconnected local communities and visitors with a unique garden heritage asset providing accessible green space and learning resource. It not only benefits Antrim, but Northern Ireland as a whole.
Mayor of Antrim, Councillor Roderick Swann, said: “Winning this prestigious RICS award for Tourism and Leisure reinforces Antrim Castle Gardens as one of Northern Ireland’s premier tourist attractions.
“The 400 year old Gardens are one of the most unique in the British Isles and an absolute must see. All of the buildings including Clotworthy House, the original stables of the Castle, have been restored and set around a beautifully landscaped courtyard.
“Antrim Borough Council is delighted that Antrim Castle Gardens has received the recognition it so richly deserves, thanks to the hard work and dedication of everyone who worked on the restoration project.”
Alderman Sam Dunlop, Chair of council’s Development & Leisure Committee, added: “The £6 million restoration project at Antrim Castle Gardens was made possible thanks to one of the largest ever awards in Northern Ireland by Heritage Lottery.
“I would also like to thank Arts Council NI and Enkalon Foundation for the financial contributions they made.”
Other shortlisted entrants in the Tourism & Leisure category included Crumlin Road Gaol, the SS Nomadic and the Walled City Lighting Project, Derry~Londonderry, which took Highly Commended in the category.
Crumlin Road Gaol won Project of the Year, sponsored by Forbo Flooring Systems, and also the Community Benefit category, sponsored by the Department of the Environment.
RICS Northern Ireland Director, Ben Collins added: “Chartered surveyors and other property and construction professionals make an enormous contribution to Northern Ireland through, for instance, their central involvement in creating infrastructure like roads, schools and hospitals that allows our society to function, the buildings in which local companies and foreign investors thrive, and tourism projects that attract visitors from all over the world.
“The diverse range of winners and highly commended projects this year is testament to their skills and we are delighted to celebrate their achievements.”
Northern Ireland winners are also considered for the overall RICS Awards, which pits local projects against prestigious building schemes from the rest of the UK and from around the world, with winners to be announced at a gala event in London in October 2014.