The team at Enterprise Causeway are delighted to see works commencing on the €7.8m, EU funded, Courthouse Shared Space Creative Hub project in Bushmills, with a special sod-cutting ceremony to mark the occasion.
The Courthouse Shared Space Creative Hub project will incorporate the sensitive restoration of the derelict Courthouse building (located in the middle of the village), as well as the creation of a new, three-floor extension to its rear, transforming the building into a creative hub for the whole community to use.
This new shared space has been funded through the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. Match-funding has been provided by the Department for Communities, Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development, Ireland.
Running in parallel with the renovation and construction works is a programme of community outreach activity, creating opportunities for shared learning experiences to explore and understand cultures, traditions and backgrounds.
To date, over 1,000 participants have participated in 34 community outreach programmes, including schools programmes, food trails, arts & crafts activities, youth forums, art programmes and Be Creative workshops.
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, said: “It gives me great pleasure to see that the restoration of this historic old Courthouse building in Bushmills is ready to get underway, having secured over €7.8m under the EU PEACE IV programme.
“My Department is delighted to be providing part of the match-funding and support to this very worthwhile project and we look forward to working with Enterprise Causeway to ensure the delivery of this essential community hub.
“I look forward to visiting the Courthouse on its completion, to see first-hand the regeneration, transformation and extension of this significant town building, into a welcoming and inclusive creative shared space hub.”
Speaking prior to the sod-cutting ceremony Tony McKibben, Head of Urban Policy & EU Branch from the Department for Communities said “A lot of work has been undertaken to get to this stage in the delivery of the project. Today’s event is a significant milestone which marks the first steps in the renovation and extension of the currently derelict Grade B1 listed Courthouse Building. The project, once finished, will provide a shared space and opportunities for all communities to come together, while discovering the heritage of the Courthouse and the Bushmills story.”
Gina McIntyre, SEUPB CEO said: “There have been decades of work across our communities to build trust and understanding between our citizens; however, we remain a divided society in a lot of respects. Unfortunately, this mistrust can be passed down through generations, and stifle progress towards a peaceful and progressive society.
“A project like the Courthouse Shared Space Creative Hub in Bushmills will result in a space where people from all backgrounds can mix and learn from each other. This is a unique opportunity for individuals from different communities to build trust, learn from each other and challenge personal misconceptions, and in so doing engage in meaningful reconciliation.
“This project, created under the EU’s PEACE IV Programme, will have a hugely transformative impact upon the local communities.”
Speaking at the sod-cutting ceremony, Jayne Taggart, Chief Executive of Enterprise Causeway said: “It’s fantastic to see this part of the project commence. When complete, it will be an incredible new asset for communities to use, with its shared facilities bringing communities together under one roof and its workshops, programmes and events providing opportunities to learn from one another and build a peaceful and a prosperous economy.
“We are really looking forward to seeing the restoration of this much-loved building, and its extension take shape, and cannot wait to welcome everyone to its launch in early 2024.”
Also reflecting on the announcement, David Hamilton, Managing Director of Martin & Hamilton Construction, said: “We were thrilled to win the tender to deliver this exciting project in our local area. With our track record in award-winning restoration and community builds, we are looking forward to delivering a high quality, bespoke new building to benefit both the local and wider community with its state-of-the-art facilities.
“Our site and contract managers will be working closely with neighbouring businesses and properties to ensure clear updates are communicated and any inconvenience is minimised.