£3m investment in Co. Down tourism

Michael Johnston, (left) operational director, Fresh Food Centres and John Hood, director of Food & Tourism, Invest NI.
Michael Johnston, (left) operational director, Fresh Food Centres and John Hood, director of Food & Tourism, Invest NI.
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Co Down retail company Fresh Food Centres is investing over £3m to redevelop a former Castlewellan Guest House into a four-star Licensed Guest Inn which will create 30 new jobs.

Once built, Hillyard House will include 20 ensuite bedrooms, a 90-seater restaurant and a bar.

Michael Johnston, operational director of Fresh Food Centres, said: “The redevelopment of Hillyard House is a significant investment for our company and one which we believe will deliver generous economic benefits for the local region.

“Our vision of a high-end guest inn will be a unique offering for the area. Being positioned in the heart of the town, close to Castlewellan Forest Park, means that we will be attractive to tourists exploring the region.

“The support we have received from Invest NI has been invaluable and has enabled us to press ahead with the development, which is well underway.

“We hope to start taking bookings in December 2019. Alongside the 11 full-time jobs, the new development will create 26 part-time jobs.”

John Hood, director of Food & Tourism at Invest NI, said: “The redevelopment of the old guest house is a welcome boost for the local economy and will enhance the tourism offering within the County Down area.

“With many tourist attractions nearby, Hillyard House will capitalise on this to boost the Northern Ireland tourism industry further through overnight trips to the region. Furthermore, the economic benefit also includes the creation of 11 jobs as well as employment generated through the construction phase.”