​EXCITING plans to breathe new life into the desperately vacant Gilford Mill complex have been given a major boost, with the mill founder's direct descendant pressing for exciting £6m redevelopment proposals to be approved without further delay.

​Limerick farmer Roy Walker's great-great-grandfather was John Walsh McMaster, whose family became the sole proprietors of the magnificent industrial facility by the mid-19th century.

Roy and his cousin, Texas ranch owner John Lee McMaster, were treated to an impromptu visit of the mill by current proprietor, Aaron Blackburn, and Roy was quite simply bowled over by Aaron's vision for a garden centre, a restaurant, apartments and parking, a rooftop garden and a children’s activity area.

The site was acquired by Karl Asset Management – a company run by Aaron - in March 2016, and his team has surveyed all buildings and carried out urgent repairs.

A spokesperson for the ABC Council explained that the planning application is still being reviewed: “No decision has been made on the planning application. At present, DAERA is reviewing their requested additional information, supplied by the planning agent on April 27, 2023.

“Once the Department responds and is content, the application will be presented to the Planning and Regulatory Services Committee for decision.”

For more information on the proposed redevelopment, visit

(Full story on page 2).

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