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PSNI lease ends leaving Vogue’s future unknown

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

PSNI lease ends leaving Vogue’s future unknown thumbnailThe old town hall in Kilkeel, formerly The Vogue cinema building.

The future of Kilkeel Town Hall is currently unknown after the PSNI said that they no longer need to use part of the facilities.

Since 2013, the town hall and its car park on Newry Street formerly known as The Vogue Cinema, which is beside the police station, were used by the PSNI.

However, the PSNI has now confirmed it no longer requires the additional space due to the "restructuring of resources".

Mournes Independent Councillor Henry Reilly  hopes  the iconic building can now be used for either "community and/or commercial uses".

“It is a listed building so the actual fabric of the building has to be maintained. The interior is unchanged since it was built in 1930s, I think, but the grade two listing part of the building restricts what you can use it for."

Councillor Reilly remarked that even if it is not put to use immediately, it will need "cleaned up".

“It is the first building you see when you come into Kilkeel so in its present state it could be tidied up a bit."

Councillor Reilly would love to see it reinstated to its former glory as a cinema.

“I know that there are some private operators who have said that they would want to use it for a cinema.

“There is also a great stage so it is an excellent location for holding public events.

“I think the building does have great potential. It could be used for community meetings also however the only problem I would foresee here is that the smaller rooms do not have disabled access but the main hall itself has been converted."

A Newry, Mourne and Down District Council spokesman acknowledged the building had been unoccupied for a number of years before the PSNI lease.

“The premises were not in use for a number of years up until 2013 when the NI Policing Board, on behalf of the PSNI, entered into a lease of the premises from council. The PSNI only used the yard portion of the premises.

“The NI Policing Board has advised the council that it no longer requires use of the premises and is not seeking to extend the lease agreement," said a council spokesperson.

Councillor Reilly says there has been some interest in taking over the building in the recent years but these were not able to progress due to the PSNI leasing part of its facilities.

“It was not that long ago that some private people wanted to make commercial use of it.

“There were security concerns at that time by the PSNI who were reluctant to allow that, which was understandable."

Councillor Reilly now hopes that some of these ideas may progress.

At a recent Strategy, Policy and Resources Committee meeting, councillors approved a number of "reinstatement/decommissioning works which will be undertaken by the PSNI in order that the premises can be handed back to the council".

“In order to make the site suitable for use by the PSNI certain works were undertaken by that organisation and the works which will now be carried out are to reinstate the premises as agreed with council. The premises are not currently used by council but it has previously been agreed that the council will explore possible future uses for the property."

A PSNI spokesman confirmed these works will be carried out but that they have no given timeframe as to when they will be complete.

“In 2013 PSNI required additional space in the Kilkeel area to accommodate operational activity, vehicles and personnel in the area.

“Due to the restructuring of resources, this space is no longer required and the lease has now ended.

“PSNI has agreed the specifications for the return of the site to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and work is under way to complete this work.

“At this stage there is no definitive time frame for this process," said the spokesman.

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