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Crumlin Road Goal whiskey distillery plans get the go-ahead

Over a decade after plans were submitted to convert part of Belfast’s Crumlin Road Gaol into a whiskey distillery, the city council has finally given the project the green light.

A-Wing. Image: Belfast Distillery Company

As reported by the Belfast Telegraph, plans submitted by Belfast Distillery Company in 2019, which were backed by a group of US investors, were approved this week.

The £15 million project is part of a wider £25 million investment by the US group to transform parts of the Victorian prison, which closed its doors in 1996.

Plans involve converting part of the prison’s A-wing into a whiskey distillery, complete with a visitor centre, shop, car park, bar and restaurant.

A-wing is one of four three-storey wings of the prison. Two others remain vacant while another has been converted into what is now Crumlin Road Gaol museum.

The wing is a Grade A Listed Building designed by English architect Charles Lanyon and built between the years of 1840 and 1859. According to the document published by Belfast City Council, the majority of the works being carried out are internal, with some “minor” external alterations.

“All works seek to replicate the existing style, materials and design of the original building. The proposal also seeks to refurbish and repair existing stonework on several window openings and roof vents,” it noted.

It added: “The proposal will bring back into use a Grade ’A’ listed building which will secure the future use, maintenance and protection of the building for the intrinsic interest of tourists.”

In recommending the project for approval, a council planning officer said the project could attract 125,000 visitors a year and create 12 new jobs.

Plans were first proposed by lottery winner Peter Lavery and gained approval in 2013. However, shortly after building commenced in 2015, work came to a halt.

Work on the current plans will now be carried out in conjunction with Belfast-based Like Architects.

Earlier this month John Kelly was appointed as the new CEO of Belfast Distillery Company, which owns the McConnell’s Irish whiskey brand. Kelly was formerly the commercial director of Irish Whiskey brand Walsh Whiskey, and previously spent 22 years working for Diageo.

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