Two iconic Richhill buildings are in line for a major make-over – with plans for a ‘Men’s Shed’ in the county Armagh village.
The buildings, at 36-38 Main Street, once featured on the Buildings at Risk register compiled by the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society.
But the Richhill Buildings Preservation Trust has set its sights on redeveloping the side-by-side properties and putting them to good use.
Both are listed buildings and fall within a conservation area and the plans will be in keeping with the village appearance.
The Richhill Buildings Preservation Trust has been active in the village in trying to promote and preserve the past while preparing for the future.
No 36 is currently vacant. Part of the ground floor was used as a hairdressing salon, but closed in October past. The upper floor provided residential accommodation but again was last used about five years ago.
The adjoining property at No 38 has provided office accommodation for the charity ‘Out of the Shadows’.
Plans have now been submitted to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council for restoration and redevelopment at both.
If approved, the existing rear extension at No 36 would be demolished and replaced with a new extension. Alterations would see a change of use on the ground and first floor levels to provide office accommodation, with the creation of a new apartment on the second floor.
The rear extension at No 38 would also be demolished and replaced and again alterations planned.
There would be proposed car parking to the rear of the properties, with associated site works, and a proposed Men’s Shed.
A very successful Men’s Shed already exists in Armagh and the prevalence of Sheds is becoming more frequent.
According to the Men’s Shed Association, it is a place where a man can feel at home and pursue practical interests with a high degree of autonomy. A Men’s Shed offers this to a group of such men where members share the tools and resources they need to work on projects of their own choosing at their own pace and in a safe, friendly and inclusive venue.
The Association says: “They are places of skill-sharing and informal learning, of individual pursuits and community projects, of purpose, achievement and social interaction. A place of leisure where men come together to work.”
The Men’s Shed, according to the Association, is not a building, but the network of relationships between the members.
The Men’s Shed at Richhill would be used during the two-year renovation period on the properties.
According to the plans, the redevelopment works when complete would envisage the creation of three new jobs through future uses.