Northern Ireland’s Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots MLA has officially opened a £117,000 redevelopment project on the Larchfield Estate in the Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council area, DAERA’s website reported on October 29.

Sarah and Gavin Mackie, the owners of Larchfield Estate, redeveloped the ‘Old Piggery’ following an award of £50,000 through the Rural Business Investment Scheme under the LEADER element of the NI Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020.   The project, which was administered by Lagan Rural Partnership (LRP) Local Action Group, enabled the redevelopment of an existing old building and landscaping of the surrounds to meet the growing demand for a unique, exclusive location for corporate events and special celebrations.

Poots said: “Larchfield Estate has a long history in this local area and in recent years has become well renowned as a leading wedding and corporate event venue within Northern Ireland.

He added: “The £50,000 of LEADER funding invested into the redevelopment of the ‘Old Piggery’, together with match funding from Larchfield Estate, has enabled the creation of a new facility which will encourage more guests to come along and enjoy the enhanced experiences that will be on offer.”

He further noted: “Across the Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council area the Lagan Rural Partnership Local Action Group has invested over £2.6million of LEADER funding in rural initiatives and I’d like to pay tribute to those Directors of the Local Action Group who give up of their time freely to implement rural development in their local area. Without them my Department could not invest this money.”

Gavin & Sarah Mackie said “Larchfield Estate is a place of exceptional heritage and beauty, a family home and a business we are passionate about. We are delighted to welcome Minster Poots and delegates from both his office and Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council to mark the redevelopment of The Old Piggery into an experience room, ideal for smaller parties, conferences and group stays.

As an apex business we are proud to work with a fantastic network of local suppliers and we look forward to a bounce back to business in 2021 for all our clients and suppliers affected by Covid in 2020.”

Ald. Allan Ewart MBE, Chair of Lagan Rural Partnership said “To date, the Rural Business Investment Scheme has funded local businesses £1.2m over the course of this programme who have directly created 81 jobs as a result of this investment.  It has been exciting to watch this project develop while also protecting original features both internally and externally. The final results are just stunning.”

Alderman Jim Dillon MBE, Development Committee Chairman added: “Supporting local businesses is important to the council and we are pleased that through the lagan Rural Partnership funding is available to help our rural businesses grow and diversify. The partnership between the council and DAERA has benefited the many businesses and sustained employment Lisburn Castlereagh area in recent years.”