Design work undertaken on the proposed refurbishment of Ardee Castle has been completed – and the plans are set to go through a public consultation later this month.
That is the latest update from Louth County Council in relation to the historic townhouse situated in the centre of Ardee in response to a motion tabled by Ardee Municipal cathaoirleach Dolores Minogue at Thursday’s monthly meeting of the local council body.
The preliminary design work has been completed by the architects and the next step is for the county council to ‘seek planning permission under Part VIII of the Planning & Development Act 2000’. As with any planning application, members of the public will get their chance to make submissions in relation to the redevelopment of Ardee Castle by way of a public consultation.
The local authority expect to see that procedure commence in mid-February. At the same, LCC say they will have to seek ministerial permission for the works due to the castle being a national monument. Ministerial consent would come from the Department of the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltactht and Minister Heather Humphrey.
Ardee Castle is not currently listed on the National Monument Service website – which is ran by the aforementioned government department – which lists national monuments by county.
Once statutory permissions have been granted for work to go ahead, work on detailed design and tender documents will commence although this is ‘subject to funding being made available.’
Funding for the refurbishment and redevelopment of Ardee Castle has been an continuing barrier for progress over the last number of years. In 2015, Louth County Council confirmed that €200,000 was being ploughed into the project from their capital budget with another €1 million to come – dependent on the council taking in development levies. That money is not there.
“It’s an objective in the capital programme,” Director of Services Joe McGuinness told the committee members when quizzed on the subject of funding. “There’s funding committed to it. It’s not money that’s there but there is funding committed to it.”
There may be hope for financial assistance forthcoming for Ardee Castle however in the form of a sizeable contribution from the Failte Ireland Large Grants Scheme. The county council applied to the body for funding last summer and an announcement on that funding is due by the end of February.
The castle is currently fenced off after reports of stones falling from the exterior were lodged before Christmas (above). In almost three months, no repair work has been undertaken.
In private, officials at the council are confident Ardee Castle will be supported by Failte Ireland. Earlier this week, we reported that the Ardee Traders & Business Association had written directly to LCC chief executive Joan Martin on the issue.
Speaking at the meeting, Dolores Minogue commented; “It’s great to see that something is starting to move on the Castle anyway. There’s a feeling out there that the Castle isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Hopefully we can get moving on it.”