Old Bangor Courthouse to become arts venue

The Department of Justice has announced plans to transfer Bangor Courthouse to a charity aiming to regenerate the town through arts and culture.

Una Duffy, development manager Heritage Lottery Fund in NI, Kieran Gilmore, Open House Festival director and Sharon Heatherington, Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service, at Bangor Courthouse
Una Duffy, development manager Heritage Lottery Fund in NI, Kieran Gilmore, Open House Festival director and Sharon Heatherington, Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service, at Bangor Courthouse

The iconic Victorian building, which has been vacant since 2013, will be transferred to an organisation known as Open House Festival, a charity based primarily in the seaside town who run music and arts events.

The transfer from the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service to the charity is being made through a mechanism known as the community asset transfer (CAT) policy.

This means the building will be leased to Open House Festival at first, before full ownership is transferred, subject to proof of sustainability of their business model over the lease period.

Kieran Gilmore, Open House Festival director, said: “If we can restore and repurpose this important Victorian listed building on Bangor seafront, then we can show how arts and culture can lead the way in putting the heart and soul back into our town centre.”

The charity has run a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the restoration of the building since November which has raised over £30,000 so far.

Stephen Reid, chief executive of Ards and North Down Borough Council, said: “The passion they have put into their crowdfunding campaign has clearly been contagious, and they have received support and donations from organisations big and small, as well as from the general public, who are enthused to experience more of what Open House has to offer.”