27/01/2010

First Phase Of Conway Mill Opened

The first part of the major refurbishment of an iconic west Belfast building has been completed.

The Stormont Social Development Minister, Margaret Ritchie, attended the opening of the first phase of Conway Mill's Refurbishment Project this morning.

Costing well over £5m with the Department for Social Development's Neighbourhood Renewal funds boosted by cash from the Integrated Development Fund and the International Fund for Ireland and the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Arts Council, Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment and Conway Mill Preservation Trust, the project has been a truly cost-sector initiative.

The historic building is said to be at the 'gateway to west Belfast' and is being sympathetically refurbished into a hub of enterprise for new and existing businesses in the area.

It will also create new employment and encourage economic growth in an area that has been otherwise blighted by under investment, with Margaret Ritchie commenting: "I welcome the opening of the first phase of this important project for the people of West Belfast.

"It will act as a flagship for regeneration in the greater Falls area with the creation of over 100 jobs within four years.
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"This project will provide an enhanced facility that will foster and encourage social and economic opportunities for many people in the community and I commend my departments efforts in supporting this worthwhile project through the neighbourhood renewal fund," she said.

Denis Rooney, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland said: "The IFI, through one of its programmes which aims to support and regenerate disadvantaged areas, made a very significant investment of £970,000 in the Conway Mill Regeneration Project.

"I have no doubt that when this very substantial regeneration project is complete, Conway Mill will be instrumental in delivering lasting economic and social advance in the surrounding area."

Jim Neeson, Chairperson for Conway Mill Preservation Trust Ltd said: "There are now 14 new enterprise and business units, five of which are occupied by some of our long term tenants.

"These tenants represent the diversity of social enterprise, community business and creative industries which have sustained Conway Mill throughout the past 30 years.

"When the project is completed in September, Conway Mill will offer much needed updated facilities and attractive opportunities for new and existing businesses both locally and throughout the wider Belfast area," he commented.

Barbara Wright from The Architectural Heritage Fund also commented saying: "The Architectural Heritage Fund is very pleased to support this important project."

(BMcC/GK)

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