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Council statement with regard to Necarne development

5th February 2020

The Council has been working through a lengthy and robust process regarding proposals for the lease of the Necarne Estate in Irvinestown to ensure that a long term sustainable use can be established for this beautiful yet underutilised estate that will bring social, economic and environmental benefits to the Irvinestown community and the wider district.

In 2016 the Council sought Expressions of Interest as part of an open process and following this, the proposal submitted by Gardrum Holdings Ltd was deemed to be the most realistic and achievable and offered the best potential for long term sustainability. Their proposal is to create a multi-purpose tourism and leisure destination to include a holiday retreat with a range of accommodation; outdoor activities; enhanced walkways and cycle paths; an equestrian trail; events space and reinstatement of Necarne lake. The plans outline how the project will be developed over a phased basis subject to obtaining the necessary statutory consents.

A draft lease will be considered by the Council in the next number of weeks. The proposed lease is subject to legal privilege however we can confirm that it includes a term of 99 years, that the public continues to enjoy the Estate free of charge for walking, cycling, horse-riding and dog walking (some access may be restricted during certain events in line with the existing arrangements) and that existing access is further enhanced through reinstatement of the main gate. It  also proposes that provision is made for the potential development of a multi-sports centre and the Council has commissioned a feasibility study into the development of such a facility.

As the owner of a listed property the Council is obliged to maintain Necarne Castle. The Council is continuing to investigate the best way forward and investment required regarding the maintenance of Necarne Castle in the short to medium term, with the long-term ambition to redevelop the Castle for wider community benefit and to that of the local heritage.

Throughout the process the Council has considered and responded to various issues raised in relation to the lease of Necarne Estate. It has consulted with the local community and taken various representations from interested groups and stakeholders to ensure that all matters are taken into consideration.

The Council is committed to achieving a long-term sustainable use for the Necarne Estate that will benefit the local area and the wider district and looks forward to completing the lease process.  The proposal has the potential to transform the estate into one which, through substantial private investment, attracts employment and visitors and preserves and enhances the heritage and natural environment to be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.