Northern Ireland

Ormiston House: Stormont Assembly hopeful of sale

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Media captionOrmiston House is a Grade B listed building in East Belfast

The Stormont Assembly is hopeful it has found a buyer for Ormiston House, a building in Belfast that was costing the taxpayer almost £3,000 a week.

The assembly bought the 19th Century property in the east of the city 13 years ago for £9m.

While it remained unsold, it cost the assembly an estimated £400 a day on security and maintenance.

It was recently advertised at £1.25m. It is understood the property will be used as a private residence.

The Grade B listed building was bought for £9m in 2001 to provide extra office accommodation for the assembly. But it was later deemed unfit for that purpose.

Ten years after it was bought, the property was put on the market with an asking price of £2.5m. It was not sold and the price was dropped.

Last year, the Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt suggested Ormiston House might provide a venue for a new international trauma centre.

But now the assembly has confirmed it is working to agree the sale of the property.

A spokesperson said a new owner would take possession of the site when legal work was concluded.

Neither the assembly nor the estate agent involved would comment on the identity of the buyer or the purchase price.

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

The assembly bought the property 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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