Northern Ireland

Ormiston House costs Stormont Assembly £400 a day

Ormiston House with for sale sign outside
Image caption Ormiston House is costing taxpayers an average of £400 a day while it is unsold

A property in east Belfast owned by the Northern Ireland Assembly is costing taxpayers an average of £400 a day while it goes unsold.

Ormiston House, a listed 19th century building in east Belfast, cost the Assembly £9m in 2001.

It went on the market earlier this year with an asking price of just £2.5m.

DUP MLA Peter Weir said there had been "strong interest" in the property but that the Assembly Commission had to get the "best value for public money".

"There have been offers put in and we would anticipate that there would be a number of others," he said.

"There is an incentive for us to sell the property because we want to make sure it is not a drain.

"However, that doesn't mean it is going to be sold to anyone who comes along."

The average weekly bill for security and repairs at Ornmiston House is around £3,000.

The assembly bought the property in 2001 for £9m from the Police Authority, the predecessor of the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

At the start of this year, security costs at Ormiston had come to £885,641, while maintenance and running costs added up to £371,379.

Professional fees relating to repairs and maintenance added another £250,015 to the total bill, while a further £212,466 was spent on professional fees for development and planning.

The property was previously owned by the shipbuilder Sir Edward Harland who remained there until 1887, when it was acquired by his business partner William Pirrie, who later became the chairman of Harland & Wolff.

Shortly after Lord Pirrie's death in 1924, Harland & Wolff came into sole ownership of the property, selling it in 1928 to Campbell College, which held it until the mid-1970s.

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