The next step on the road to opening Ardee Castle to the public will involve appointing a new design team to take over from Fingal County Council architects, but as ever any ongoing work will be subject to funding made available.
The development plans for the ancient townhouse is now at the Part 8 planning stage, after preliminary design work was completed by a design team from Fingal County Council. Louth County Council is now seeking planning permission under Part VIII of the Planning & Development Act 2000’, a positive decision on which is due in a number of weeks.
Councillors at the Ardee Municipal District monthly meeting on Thursday were given an update on the process and heard about the approach engineers and designers were taking with the building.
Development work will include the castle itself, Bridewell Block to the rear, the modern courtyard and the adjoining house known as the Judge’s Chambers. The proposed works are to a National Mounment and protected structure and Ardee Castle falls under the Ardee Architectural Conversation Area (ACA) as designated in the Louth County Council Development Plan 2015-2021.
The refurbishment of Ardee Castle proposes to include:
- Main entrance relocation to the adjoining building on Castle Street (Judge’s Chambers) to faciliate universal access.
- New external lift to rear of Judge’s Chambers to serve ground and first floor.
- New external fire escape stairs to rear of the Castle to serve ground and all upper floors.
- Refubishment of the Castle, Bridewell Block at the rear, modern extension and adjoining Judge’s Chambers.
- External areas developed to faciliate universal access and used for ramps and level changes.
Work will now begin on a more detailed design of the proposed devlopment works, with the local authority having to appoint a new design team with architects from FCC now focusing on other projects.
Pat Finn, Louth County Council engineer, confirmed that an archeologist will now be involved at every stage going forward – given the status of the castle as a national monument. Among the tasks they will have a say in will be the preparations made to acquire ministerial permission to carry out the works.
“As a monument, it is a requirement that an archeologist is involved,” he told the meeting. Finn did concede that there were no concrete plans as of yet for what purpose an open Ardee Castle would be used for.
“Future uses is an issue,” he told the assembled councillors. “The whole idea would to be bring the castle back into operation.”
Sinn Fein councillor Pearse McGeough welcomed Ardee Castle coming to Part 8, however he felt previous work carried out in Ardee Castle, including the contruction of the cafe area on the ground floor, were “inappropriate to the building.”
“The general philosophy is you don’t try and mimic what was there before,” Finn replied, while Louth CoCo conservation officer Angela Dullaghan told the councillors that colours and materials used will be sympathetic to the stone,”, adding that the changes would be 21st century, modern additions.
Dullaghan said that the approach taken to Ardee Castle was similar to that undertaken at Malahide Castle. Jim Tenanty raised some concerns from neighbours of the Castle, in regards to privacy.
“I’m delighted to see this. It’s brilliant, ” Colm Markey said. “It’s been a long time coming. People in Ardee and Mid-Louth will be delighted to see even a little movement on it.”
New cathaoirleach Liam Reilly added, “It’s a brilliant achievement. It’s been a long process and I’m delighted to see it at this stage.”
The next stage in the development will see a new design team appointed to pick up the process and come up with a detailed design. If and when ministerial approval is obtained for work, it would then be put out to tender.
However, Finn warned that the above was “all subject to funding being made available.”