Sale of public property in Mid Ulster raises £152k for government

Tullyhogue Fort
Tullyhogue Fort

Of the 21 public sites put up for sale across Cookstown and Magherafelt in the last five years, just three sold, netting a total of £152,000 for the public purse.

The lands and properties, held by various government departments, included the historic Tullyhogue Fort, woodland sites, police barracks and even depots once owned by NI Water.

Of the nine sites put on the market in Cookstown, just two sold.

NI Water’s depot at Molesworth Road alone earned £131,000 - funds that will be ploughed back into the water and sewerage infrastructure.

The site was earmarked for sale due to the company’s obligation to dispose of any assets that are no longer of use.

“Several sites are identified for disposal each year and these are notified to the Utility Regulator through the Annual Land Disposal Return,” said a spokesperson.

“Income from the sale of redundant assets is retained by the company in order to contribute towards the cost of delivering capital investment in the water and sewerage infrastructure throughout Northern Ireland.”

The second Cookstown site to go under the hammer achieved much less value, despite its historical significance.

Tullyhogue Fort, which was previously held by Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, transferred ownership to Department of the Environment for just £20,000.

Included in this transfer were lands immediately adjacent to the monument and a strip of historic woodland adjacent to Killymoon River.

But a spokesperson added: “No financial transaction took place for these latter transfers, on the understanding that the land [was] retained in public ownership and maintained for public use.”

Out of 12 sites in Magherafelt listed, just one was sold.

This land belonged to DRD Road Service, now known as Transport NI, and was situated on Kilrea Road, Upperlands.

The site sold for just £1,000, with earnings going towards “achieving some £1.3m of disposal income from the sales of surplus land,” according to a spokesperson.

And in the case of Magherafelt property 1 Tudor Brook, it is understood that DRD took possession, as proof of ownership could not be found.

It was classed as a ‘possessory title’ on the Department of Finance’s list of properties for sale, which means it had remained unused for a long period of time.

Across Cookstown and Magherafelt 18 of the properties and sites that were listed by Department of Finance as ‘for sale’ following a question from the UUP’s Michael Copeland, still remain vacant and unused.

These include the Police Station in Bellaghy and land at Moneymore Road outside Cookstown.