A ‘one off opportunity’ is how the purchase of the former PSNI Station at Bushmills was described by Roy Bolton of the Bushmills Trust at a recent meeting of the Causeway Coast and Glens Council.
Mr. Bolton and John O’Neill from consultants Venture i, made the presentation to members of the Leisure and Development Committee proposing the acquisition of the station by the CC&G Council who would then hand it back to the Bushmills community under the ownership of the Bushmills Trust.
Prior to the presentation Director of Leisure & Development Richard Baker confirmed to the committee that the deadline for the acquisition was June 1st, however, after speaking to the PSNI, they were willing to take offers past the deadline date from the Bushmills Trust.
Roy Bolton said: “Moyle Council, on behalf of the village forum, lodged an expression of interest to acquire it and in February made a recommendation for purchase. A decision needs to be made this month or the station will be put to public auction.”
John O’Neill continued: “There is very strong community support in terms of the the fact that someone needs to do something with it, but a number of key things to come out with a degree of frequency is that there is still an existing need for accommodation in the area, there is still a dearth of car parking.
“When we consulted with some of the people involved in tourism trade, and particularly local letting agents, they came back with the lack of self catering options.
“One of the options we have come up with is to convert the existing building into a four unit self catering accommodation and also to look at the opportunity to create 26 additional off-street car parking units at the back of the building.
“There is the opportunity to create a centre of the village car park hopefully will distribute the visitors to the village throughout or close to the commercial premises.
“This is a one off offer from the Policing Board and requires the council to purchase the building on behalf of the community at an agreed, below market value of £140,000. The budget at this stage to convert four 5 star self catering units is just below £450,000 so including the cost of the car parking, the overall budget will be £688,000.
Councillor Sean McGlinchey commented: “I think the Council should support the project based on the presentation and the previous work of the Trust. I have confidence in the work of the Bushmills Trust.”
Alderman Norman Hillis added: “We can’t afford to give out money willy nilly. However, I am very impressed by the track record of the Bushmills Trust. Bushmills is right beside the honey pot of a World Heritage site.” Members then went into committee to discuss matters further.