A plan to convert the Old Village Shop in Gracehill into holiday accommodation is not likely to be realised until 2016, three years behind schedule, due to unforeseen delays in securing match funding for the project, a Council committee has been told.
At their meeting in The Braid on Thursday night, Councillors were reminded that Council provided funding to GhOST (Gracehill Old School Trust) to purchase the Old Shop in November 2012, and a letter of offer was issued to the Trust detailing Council funding of £255,000 towards the total cost of the project (£637,500)
A Council officer pointed out that while Council’s cash was subject to match funding, so far the group had only raised £15,000 from private charities.
She also told members that “there are no other offers on the table” and that an “in principle” agreement of funding for the group from the NI Environment Agency was delayed “due to issues beyond control”.
It was pointed out, however, that progress on the project had been made by the Group including tendering for and appointment of an architect and initial building surveys and repairs carried out.
A Grade 1 listed building, the old shop is a large detached stone building on the village square which incorporates the village store/Post Office, storage space and substantial residential accommodation.
GhOST’s intention is to convert the property into two residential holiday units offering two/three bed spaces and eight bed spaces respectively and to refurbish the Old Village Shop and stores as a visitor attraction, portraying a village store at the end of the 18th century.
It was pointed out to councillors last week that, in the original schedule, the first holiday accommodation was to be open by March 2013 and the shop open by June of that year.
Members went on to agree an officer recommendation that an addendum be issued to GhOST extending Council’s existing letter of offer until March 31, 2016.