Gosford Castle housing project goes to planners

PLANS for the redvelopment of Gosford Castle in Markethill have been lodged with the Planning Service.

The planning application, to convert the castle into 23 private houses, was advertised in the Portadown Times last week.

Also included in the application are plans for a bin store, garages, tennis courts and a pavilion, for the use of residents only.

The advertisement gives members of the public the opportunity to view or comment on the proposal before the Planning Service decides on whether or not to approve it.

The castle was sold in December for 1,000 to Gosford Castle Development, which plans to spend around 4 million on restoring and redeveloping the castle, with the renovation of the roofs alone expected to cost in the region of 1 million.

The walled garden will be maintained and will be open to the public on statutory, public and bank holidays, while the surrounding Gosford Forest Park will also remain open to the public.

Members of Armagh City and District Council were recently given a presentation on the redevelopment of the castle.

DUP Cusher representative Councillor Gareth Wilson said he was "very relieved" that the castle would retain much of its unique fabric and fixtures and that only minor changes would be made to the exterior, mainly on a health and safety basis.

He added, "The proposals for 23 apartments are welcomed and will ensure that the castle is restored to a high level and also, through multi-ownership, will be maintained along with its surroundings for years to come.

"The castle has been left neglected and in ruin for too long and this new impetus to reinvigorate the site is refreshing."

Speaking when the sale of the castle was announced, Arthur Acheson of The Boyd Partnership, which represents the developer, said work will start once consent has been granted and is expected to take between five and seven years.

Said Mr Acheson, "All the houses will be contained within the walls of the castle and we will be using the original courtyard and entrances, as well as old staircases, entrance doors and windows.

"The first stage of the project will be to restore the roofs over the principal rooms, namely the library, the old dining room and the round tower.

"They have some very nice ceilings and woodwork remaining in them."

He added, "We have consulted with the Environment and Heritage Service during the design process and have identified local craftspeople and other specialists who are familiar with the materials of the original building and can carry out the necessary detailed work.

"For instance, we have a stoneworker who has access to some of the original marble."