The Department of the Environment has served an Urgent Works Notice on the agent for the owner of the former National School, Bushmills.
The school is a listed building built as part of a nationwide initiative launched in 1830 by Edwin Stanley, Chief Secretary for Ireland and later Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
The building is not watertight and is not well secured.
The Department of the Environment has tried repeatedly to encourage the owner to take steps to remedy the situation, to no avail. It has now issued a notice which outlines the action it will take to carry out emergency works if the owner does not initiate these within seven days.
The notice is one of a number enacted across Northern Ireland in recent years as part of the Department’s ongoing commitment to minimise the risk that our historic buildings face.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: “The serving of this Notice is a further tangible commitment by my Department to Bushmills’ rich heritage and builds on previous funding to tackle dereliction in Portrush and Portstewart.
“Our listed buildings are jewels from the past which we need to conserve for now and future generations. Once gone they can never be brought back.
“Listed buildings attract much tourism and there is always the potential to develop this further by securing and preserving them.
“I am determined that we should do that and this Urgent Works Notice is an example of that determination.”
The former National School, Bushmills was listed on 2 December 1980 and is now a Grade B Listed Building. It is also on the Built Heritage at Risk Register with its condition described as very poor.
Following the Heritage Crime Summit held in August 2011 Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) was provided with extra funding to enable it to undertake direct action in such cases. Seven Notices have been issued including one in Coleraine and one in Portrush.
This building has been vacant for many years and despite repeated attempts by NIEA to initiate action to prevent further water ingress, actions were not forthcoming.