Historic house is to be spared the axe

Navigation House
Navigation House

A Lisburn Councillor has been praised for his efforts in preventing a historical building on the Hillsborough Road from demolition.

During a meeting of Lisburn City Council’s Planning Committee Councillor John Palmer asked to defer a decision to demolish the Navigation House and within a few weeks a protection notice was put on the property.

Now the Navigation House on the banks of the Lagan Canal will be the new headquarters of the Lagan Canal Trust with the Trust having leased the site from Hearth Revolving Fund through Ulster Garden Villages who acquired the house last year. In 2012, the house and stables were spot-listed by the then Environment Minister, Alex Attwood, after a planning application proposed to demolish them and build six units in their place.

Chief officer of the trust, Brenda Turnbull thanked Mr Palmer for his efforts saying: “Councillor John Palmer sitting on the Council’s Planning Committee was the instigator of saving the house from demolition and the site from development. Its’s John we have to thank.”

Brenda said the Navigation House requires a lot of work and once the building had had its urgent repairs done the Trust will be looking for volunteers to come along and help us with the extensive gardens to bring them into use for the public to enjoy.

“Our aim would be to open the site to the public. The Trust would work on the first floor and our longer-term intention is to look at having digital interpretations of Lough Neagh on the ground floor.

“The house used to be connected to the Union Locks - the manager would go up and down the stairs to open the lock. We hope school parties could come to Navigation House and learn about the Lagan Navigation and why it was built, before walking down the garden into the Union Locks. It’s perfect.”

On February 23, between 6pm and 8pm, the Trust will be holding a public consultation event at the Island Centre showcasing proposals for Discover Waterways Lisburn, a regeneration area covering the waterways in the Lisburn stretch.

They are asking local people to come along and make suggestions for the waterways, including the Lagan Canal spur which is home to the Union Locks and Navigation House.

The plans for the publicly-owned land include a walking and cycling path from Navigation House to the Maze site, new paths linking the river to the Moira Road, and opening the river up to more communities and ultimately reopening the navigation to provide new canoeing, boating and fishing opportunities.