£4.2million Innovative Village Catalyst programme launched at Caledon Woolstore

Image via DAERA

DAERA Minister Edwin Poots visited Caledon Woolstore to launch the £4.2million Village Catalyst programme which is an innovative capital funding programme, led by DAERA and DfC with support from the Architectural Heritage Fund.

The cross departmental initiative is designed to target rural poverty and social isolation and restore and revive historic buildings, building on a highly successful four-year pilot project. The Programme will award up to £4.2million over the next five years with DAERA earmarked to contribute £2.7million from the TRPSI Programme budget.

At the launch of the programme, DAERA Minister Edwin Poots said: “The Village Catalyst pilot from which Caledon Regeneration Partnership benefitted was part-funded through my Department’s Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation (TRSPI) Programme. The diverse range of projects such as this childcare facility in Caledon demonstrate how local needs can be addressed and ensure that our rural communities thrive and are places people want to live in.

Minister Poots added: “I’m delighted to be able to announce the launch of the new Village Catalyst programme which will address dereliction and make the most of these historic assets in ways that best benefit the communities in which they are located.”

Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey said: “I am pleased that my Department has been able to work with DAERA and the Architectural Heritage Fund to develop this innovative approach. I am delighted that we can now jointly commit to a new grant scheme that will also be supported by the Housing Executive and which will maintain a close relationship with the National Lottery Heritage Fund.  Partnership is key if we want to realise the full benefit of our heritage to support people, build communities and shape places.

“The work undertaken at Caledon is a great example of how this can be done. A derelict historic building has been given an exciting new use which will help stimulate community activity and which has already encouraged wider investment in the village. I congratulate all who have worked together so well to deliver this important project.”

Jim Brady, Chairman of Caledon Regeneration Partnership said: “By locating a childcare facility in an historic building, the project offers an opportunity to bring the building ‘back to life’ and directly engage children and families in local heritage through a heritage engagement programme continuing to promote and educate residents about the village’s history.”

Paul Mullan, Director, Northern Ireland, The National Lottery Heritage Fund added: ““Investing in heritage means investing in the community to which it belongs. A £250,000 grant for the Caledon Woolstore project has been made possible by National Lottery players who raise more than £30million every week for good causes in the UK. This exemplary project has preserved the important heritage of the building, but also provides opportunities for local people, in particular young people, to access and better understand their local heritage. Encouraging people to discover their history is a positive not only for the heritage itself but also for people’s wellbeing and strengthening communities.”

Matthew McKeague, CEO of The Architectural Heritage Fund said: “The AHF is really pleased to have been involved from the outset with the Village Catalyst pilot and this exemplary project.  Advice from our NI Support Officer, coupled with a Project Viability Grant and input from AHF’s Investment Team helped to shape The Woolstore project into a prime candidate for investment. It is brilliant to see capital works coming to an end and we look forward to continuing to help to develop other great projects now that the programme is being mainstreamed.”

The four projects funded in the pilot identified core community uses for built heritage at risk, resulting in the development of: community-led affordable housing in a listed bank in Rathfriland; a co-working and well-being hub in the Pat Murphy House in Ederney; a training hotel for young adults with learning difficulties in the Old Post Office, Gracehill led by the local Building Preservation Trust and NOW Group; and a childcare facility in Caledon’s 19th century Woolstore, where up to 52 children will be accommodated at any one time, greatly benefiting local families.

Read more

NIEL Mailing List

If you are interested in receiving NIEL's monthly newsletter please enter your details here:

Newsletter Sign Up