Green light for 'pivotal' Derry regeneration plans

Northern Ireland's environment minister has given his backing to plans to redevelop a former Ministry of Defence site in Derry to provide shops, offices, restaurants and up to 200 new homes.

Fort George: approval for redevelopment plans
Fort George: approval for redevelopment plans

Mark H Durkan last week approved outline proposals to replace Fort George, on the west bank of the Foyle, with 200 residential units, 34,000 square metres of employment and education uses, as well as 950 square metres of local retail and 3,000 square metres of cafe bar and restaurant uses.

The 6.2 hectare site was used for shipbuilding from the 1880s to the 1920s, and was also a base for Allied warships protecting the shipping lanes of the Atlantic. It became known as Fort George in 1969 when the British Army took control of it, and remained in defence use until 2001.

The current masterplan was drawn up by consultancy Turley and Hamilton Archtiects for site owners the Department for Social Development, which is part of the Northern Ireland Executive.

Durkan said the site was "pivotal" for the city and the approval provided a blueprint for its physical regeneration and would provide certainty to investors.

"I believe that this approval will also serve to reinvigorate this part of the city both physically and functionally. It will have positive impacts on an improved public realm and river frontage," he said. "It also allows work to be completed on the decontamination of the site and ensures that the site is ready for inward investment."

Turley director Brian Kelly said negotiations with the planning authority had involved an intensive design exercise and a comprehensive suite of environmental assessments.

"With a planning framework approved, this permission will underpin detailed proposals and facilitate scheme implementation," he said.

Outline permission for the site was originally sought in 2012. Because of the scale of the application it was classified as a major planning application for determination by ministers under Article 31 of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991.

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