Regeneration scheme is streets ahead with latest restoration of former retail premises.
The latest restoration of retail premises in Victoria Street, Ballymoney, has further helped in the regeneration of once neglected areas of the town.
Number 10 Victoria Street formerly comprised a jeweller’s shop on the ground floor with two residential flats upstairs. The flats had lain derelict for the past eight years, while the jeweller’s business had more recently vacated the premises to move elsewhere in town, thanks to a similar refurbishment project.
Both schemes were brought to fruition with part funding by the Ballymoney Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI), following an award of £1.29million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
This funding, combined with matched funding from the Department for Social Development (DSD), helped enable the building to be brought back to life in readiness for commercial and residential use again, whilst retaining its historic character and reinstating many architectural features.
The main contractor, JA Gamble & Co Ltd, worked with a number of specialist sub-contractors to restore the old building, and despite a few unforeseen pitfalls, managed to complete the project on schedule.
“While not actually a listed building, it was one of significant historical interest and required a sympathetic refurbishment,” explained Richard Gamble, Director of JA Gamble & Co Ltd.
“It has been done with a similar purpose in mind – the ground floor premises of the newly restored building have a fresh new look, with good potential as a versatile retail space or professional office and have already attracted interest from potential tenants.
The first floor has also been transformed. It still provides two residential premises, but they are now more modern, well fitted out apartments.
“The building work was done using traditional materials and methods, where possible, and we appointed specialist sub-contractors to carry out many aspects of the restoration,” said Richard.
In fact, the team working on Number 10 was the same as the one which restored another building in Main Street, which is now occupied by the jeweller who moved there from Number 10. The only difference to the team was that it was headed up by JA Gamble this time.
“We do quite a bit of restoration work and have worked with a lot of the specialist sub-contractors before. We enjoy good working relationships with them all and know they can be relied upon to do an excellent job,” continued Richard.
Restoring older buildings often throws up unforeseen challenges and this particular project was no exception.
“When we were refurbishing the top floor we discovered there was a risk that the whole building would collapse, due to its age and condition,” said Richard. “We had to demolish the building back to first floor level and rebuild it from there, with exactly the same look but with much stronger construction. This also meant that we had to build a completely new roof too.
“In the end it actually didn’t affect our schedule too much as it allowed us to progress more quickly in other ways,” he continued.
“We retained all the internal features, such as the historic coving, plaster moulding roses and decorative stained glass in the entrance lobby to the apartments, and even managed to keep the existing staircase, even though we demolished everything around it.”
Although Number 10 wasn’t a listed building, it was defined as one of historical interest, and because of this, and also the terms under the funding, the contractor had very tight guidelines on what materials could – or couldn’t – be used.
“There was definitely no MDF used in the project,” laughed Richard.
“The project went very well,” he concluded. “We enjoyed a good working relationship with the architect, ATP Architects Ltd, the client and the funders, and it was very successful.”