A Derry landmark building restored – Bishop’s Gate Hotel
The new Bishop’s Gate Hotel has opened its doors. This 31 bed hotel adds significant luxury accommodation and services to the tourist and local offering in the city.
This hotel development is the latest project of the Inner City Buildings Preservation Trust (ICBPT), the historic buildings restoration arm of the Inner City Trust group.
The building had fallen into significant disrepair before it and the complimentary buildings in London Street were purchased by the ICBPT. The ICBPT stepped in to buy these before they were a loss to the built heritage of the old walled city.
The historic hotel was the first Heritage Enterprise venue to open for business following a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £784,000. The Heritage Enterprise Scheme was introcuded by HLF in 2013 to enable local people to save the buildings that they love. The Bishop’s Gate Hotel site, previously known as Northern Counties, had sat vacant and derelict since 2006 and has now been brought back to life following the investment from the Heritage Enterprise Programme.
Heritage Enterprise is designed to help when the cost of restoring a historic building is so high that additional support is needed to make the prioject economically viable. In this case, HLF’s investment has ensured that vital repairs and conservation work to the 18th Century building could take place, enabling experienced businesses to move in and occupuy the newly created commercial spaces.
The main contractor on the project was Declan Conway, and the main architect was Mullarkey Pedersen.
Karl Pedersen, Architect, whose firm led the restoration work believes that the refurbishment of this building was very important, not only in terms of the physical recovery of the building but also the animation of the streetscape.
This development is a significant catalyst for the future development of this area and will have a long term beneficial effect in terms of confidence building and job creation on top of the immediate economic benefit it brings.
The HLF grant has also supported jobs, trading oppourtunities and the chance to enhance Derry/Londderry’s tourism offer. Over 130 people were employed during the construction phase and the hotel iself has gone on to create up to 60 new jobs, greatly boosting the local economy.
This investment by the Inner City Trust group financially supported by the HLF and Department of Social Development (DSD) quite literally helped to stimulate this part of the walled city and clearly shows what patient capital alongside strategic use of grant aid can achieve in bringing historic and listed buildings back into productive use.
Karl said: “During the extensive work, which involved not only the restoration of the actual building but the sympathetic incorporation of London Street buildings into the new complex, a blend of skills were used which enabled the additional buildings to be brought into use in a way which maintained the historic streetscape.
“During the work, many locals called in to see how it was proceeding and to remember how it used to be in its glory days.
“There was a real excitement both locally and regionally in the restoration and I think those who remember the beauty of the building won’t be disappointed. The ICBPT should be congratulated on their efforts to not only save the building but to turn it to the advantage of our city’s efforts in pursuit of physical and economic regeneration.”
The plan to transform the Bishop’s Gate Hotel site was the first to secure a Heritage Enterprise award in 2014. Now, with the construction and restoration work completed, the much loved building has been brought back into use as an economic asset for the city. The regeneration of the building marks both a major milestone for the regeneration of Derry/Londonderry and the Heritage Enterprise Scheme.
Karl Pedersen finished by saying that the ICBPT investment alongside the enlightened approach to restoration, shown by HLF and DSD, has combined to provide a regeneration dividend for the city.
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