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Auction of Westport’s bank garden deferred until December

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UP FOR SALE The sale of Westport's bank garden has been deferred to December at the earliest.

Áine Ryan

THE selling agents for Westport’s old Bank of Ireland garden withdrew the sale from its auction list today (Wednesday) because ‘all the legal documents were not in place’, The Mayo News can confirm.
A spokeswoman for the Galway auctioneers said: “There is a lot of interest in the property and we may be in a position to auction it in December.”
It is being sold ‘as an ideal investment for redevelopment’ on behalf of the receiver by O’Donnellan and Joyce Auctioneers.
Westport Civic Trust (Trust) has made an eleventh hour appeal to the public to help  to raise monies and save the old Bank of Ireland garden and its Georgian era outbuildings, which are protected structures in the Co Mayo heritage town. The town-centre property was due to be auctioned in Galway on Friday with a reserve price of €240,000.
The Trust was originally established in 1999 in a bid to save the one-acre garden and develop it as a public space after the Bank of Ireland divested itself of the garden and its adjacent bank building as separate entities.   
Like the curtilage of the garden and its outbuildings, the bank building is a protected structure, recently purchased by Westport Credit Union and extensively refurbished.
It was originally a Dower House built circa 1809 for a widow of the Marquis of Sligo of Westport House.
In the interim, the Trust successfully led the campaign to save the old railway li ne to the Quay, which has been developed as a greenway and very popular with tourists and locals.  
Iris Galloway, of the Trust, said: “We set up Westport Civic Trust to protect this precious garden, and offered to buy the property from the bank at a token price in order to turn it into an amenity for the town.
“The Bank turned us down and instead sold the garden and courtyard to a local developer, who was aware that the Trust was seeking a preservation order for the garden. Over the following years, the Trust continued its campaign taking advantage of stipulations in the  Planning and Development Act 2000 which state that any grounds attendant to a protected structure (its curtilage) were, by extension, protected,” she said.
Ms Galloway said that at a meeting with the town council in 2012, the Trust ‘finally got the council to agree to rezone the garden as predominantly (75 percent) Open Space’. The Trust has devised plans with the county council for the use of the garden by various community groups.

MORE www.westportcivictrust.com

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