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Six invited to tender to build multi-million pound Armagh library and community ‘hub’

Yesterday marked the deadline for contractors to submit formal bids to build a new multi-million pound library and community facilities at the St Patrick’s Trian site.

Six contractors had earlier proven successful in being selected after submitting a pre-qualifying questionnaire two weeks ago.

Having been invited to tender for the work, they had until noon on Monday to submit.

Armagh I exclusively revealed plans for the development – at a cost in excess of £3 million – back in February 2015.

It was approved by council and all consents were finalised just three weeks ago – at the end of January.

It will be a huge development and which will bring back into productive use two Listed Building

Two libraries – the branch library at Market Street and the Irish and Local Studies Library at the old City Hospital building –  will be amalgamated on the St Patrick’s Trian site.And, upon completion, the famous Market House building – currently home to the branch library – will be given over to an alternative use.

Meanwhile, the Dobbin Street Community Centre – which has served as a base for many groups and charities in Armagh for generations – will also be closed and put up for sale.

The site includes a number of prominent buildings including Saint Patrick’s Trian, formerly the bank manager’s home, which was built around 1800, the former Presbyterian Meeting House, which was built in 1722 and previously housed the exhibition of Jonathan Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, and the tourist centre, originally the Northern or Belfast Bank, built around 1851.

The former Armagh Ancestry building at 42 English Street will now be demolished.

The visitor information centre at 40 English Street will also be partially demolished – a potential long-term plan could see it housed within the Market Place Theatre.

An archway between Nos 40 and 42 which is also listed will be retained, but work carried out by the favoured contractor to strengthen and sustain it.

It is intended to create a ‘public open space area’ and ancillary external refurbishment associated with St Patrick’s Trian.

There will be internal alterations to provide a new library – a ‘one-stop shop’ for both Libraries NI facilities in Armagh – as well as a communiy ‘hub’ and meeting venue which would meet the needs – and more – of all those currently using Dobbin Street.

A new entrance lobby to the Trian will be constructed as part of the plans.

Adjacent to 42 English Street will be a new retaining structure, which will form a ‘green wall’ with plants and shrubs growing from it.

The tenders issued to the six successful contractors are in “regard to the refurbishment of Saint Patrick’s Trian and works to the connecting multi-storey car park”.

The specification adds: “The work will comprise the demolition of 42 and the partial demolition of 40 Upper English Street to allow for the creation of a public open space area along with ancillary external refurbishment associated with St Patrick’s Trian. The planning application also details internal alterations to provide a library and community facilities pertaining to use class D1 and the creation of a new entrance lobby to the trian.

“The works include: 1) Refurbishment and alterations to the existing St Patricks Trian to provide library and community accommodation; 2) Repairs and upgrading to the existing connecting car park.”

It is expected that the successful contractor will be selected within a matter of months and will pave the way for work starting on what will represent a major investment in Armagh city centre.

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St Patrick to be used to help turn Armagh into global ‘must visit’ destination

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