As Chair of the Donaghadee Town Steering Group Councillor, I have welcomed the Council’s decision to lodge a planning application to regenerate The Moat Donaghadee. The applications success would allow the retention of its iconic status within the town while adding it to Donaghadee’s growing tourism offering.
This decision to apply for planning permission to improve the surrounding lands of The Moat and renovate and develop the building into Northern Ireland’s only Camera Obscura, is an exciting first step for the project.
Generations of residents and visitors have climbed The Moat to enjoy the view over Northern Ireland’s best loved harbour and lighthouse, and wondered what lies behind the metal front door of what is officially known as The Old Gunpowder Store, but we know as The Moat, Donaghadee.
Truth is that there isn’t much to see in the building at the moment – and in fact it is in a fairly poor state of repair both inside and out. However, if in the first instance we can secure planning permission to regenerate the building and the area around it, we believe we will have a great project which could attract the funding required to make it a reality.
We have always attracted tourists to our town but we know we need to continue growing the tourism infrastructure to serve the needs of today’s day trippers and tourists.
The harbour and lighthouse attract visitors and now we have a selection of wonderful shops and restaurants to encourage them to spend more money with us while they are here. The addition of the Camera Obscura within The Moat, Donaghadee, and other plans for upgrades and additional attractions such as the Sir Samuel Kelly that are being worked through at the moment, could only add to the already existing reasons to visit our town.
It’s unfortunate that the last Department of the Communities Minister, DUP MLA Paul Girvan, decided to withhold the promised Regeneration Funds of two million pounds every year from the Council. If we knew we had access to that money, funding the work would be so much easier as Councillors could make a case directly to Council. It’s certainly a decision I hope the next Minister might reverse as soon as he or she takes office.
In the meantime all we can do is make the project as attractive to funders as possible and take it from there.
If funding can be secured, the project could be completed within two years.