Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has agreed a 99 year lease with Gardrum Holdings in respect to Necarne Estate. The decision was taken at a meeting held at Enniskillen Townhall yesterday, Thursday, with the press prohibited from attending discussion on the issue.

The terms of the lease sees the Council "obliged" to ensure the maintenance of the Castle, which is located on the site, with the Council stating that "no detailed designs or costs have been commissioned" in respect to how much the maintenance will cost the ratepayer. 

At the meeting Independent Labour Councillor, Donal O'Cofaigh, sought to have the issue discussed before the press and also asked for more time to be taken in order for the Council to ascertain the full potential cost to the ratepayer for the maintenance of the castle.

However no other Councillor supported this call and the matter was discussed under confidential matters with the approval of the lease being voted through. In a social media post, Councillor O'Cofaigh stated that the lease had been approved by Councillors. 
According to a Council statement the lease will see the creation of a “multi-purpose tourism and leisure destination”.
The Council revealed that the lease “also proposes that provision is made for the potential development of a multi-sports centre and the Council has commissioned a feasibility study into the development of such a facility”. Fermanagh GAA, the Fermanagh and Western Football League, along with representative from athletics, hockey and other sports have expressed an interest in a multi sports development at Necarne.
There was resistance to the lease from some within the community with a meeting held in Irvinestown on Tuesday of this week. One of the issues raised at the meeting was the future maintenance of the Castle and the Council did confirm that this responsibility will not fall to Gardrum Holdings with a Council spokesperson saying: “As the owner of a listed property the Council is obliged to maintain Necarne Castle.” 
It is understood that a 2013 structural report into the castle estimated a cost of £300-350k for stabilisation works.
While the lease itself is subject to legal privilege the Council did release some details of the proposed development of the estate: “Their (Gardrum) proposal is to create a multi-purpose tourism and leisure destination to include a holiday retreat with a range of accommodation; outdoor activities; enhanced walkways and cycle paths; an equestrian trail; events space and reinstatement of Necarne lake.”
The Council has said that the public will continue to have access to the estate but that this could be restricted for the running of events: “We can confirm that it includes a term of 99 years, that the public continues to enjoy access to the Estate free of charge for walking, cycling, horse-riding and dog walking (with some access may be restricted during certain events in line with existing arrangements), and that existing access is further enhanced through reinstatement of the main gate,” the Council statement read.
The Council continued to say that the proposed lease has the potential to “transform” the estate: “The Council is committed to achieving a long-term sustainable use for the Necarne Estate that will benefit the local area and the wider district and looks forward to completing the lease process. 
“The proposal has the potential to transform the estate into one which, through substantial private investment, attracts employment and visitors and preserves and enhances the heritage and natural environment.”