Flats plan for former bank and bar

The former bank near the top of Shipquay Street and the former Beechtree Bar on Beechwood Avenue.
The former bank near the top of Shipquay Street and the former Beechtree Bar on Beechwood Avenue.

Derry City & Strabane District Council have approved plans to transform a former pub and financial building into apartment complexes.

The separate developments were endorsed by Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Planning Committee at its February meeting on Wednesday.

The derelict Beechtree Bar at 106 Beechwood Avenue will now be transformed into six one bedroom apartments with on site parking by SPD (Derry) Ltd.

A Planning officer said the development “would bring this property back into use”. Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue proposed the committee accept the officer’s recommendation, stating: “This will enhance this derelict building and bring it back to life again.”

The proposal was seconded by SDLP Councillor Angela Dobbins and agreed by the committee.

Speaking after the decision, the Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council, John Kelpie said the development will bring a substantial boost to the local economy as well as see investment and refurbishment works to improve a building that has been disused for some time.

A separate application to create five apartments and a retail unit at a listed building towards the top of Shipquay Street was also approved at the meeting.

The Martin Group, through their agent Studio 4 Design, had applied to carry out external restoration works to the facades and roof, as well as internal re-ordering to provide commercial unit at ground level as well as the five flats.

Number 9 Shipquay Street is a former financial office building and was last used as a solicitor’s office.

A report brought before the committee stated that the front of the building is “clad in ornately dressed white stone”, adding:

“Much of the internal fabric of the building e.g. the cornices, architraves ceiling roses, fire places, dado rails, skirting boards that would be associated with a building of this period has been lost.”

Planners have said that they premises are presently vacant but are located at a prime retail frontage.

Speaking at the meeting, SDLP Councillor Angela Dobbins said that following on from a similar recent application to bring life into another city centre building, she wanted to propose the recommendation was accepted.

“This will only be a further addition to the enticement of that area,” she said.

Sinn Fein Councillor Christopher Jackson said he wholeheartedly agreed.

“This will be an advancement and an improvement to our city centre,” he said, adding that this was also a key part of the council’s strategy for the commercial district.

“We have been promoting the idea of living above the shops and this will provide much needed accommodation within the city centre,” Colr. Jackson added.

SDLP Councillor Gus Hastings said that the development was “great news” for the city and would help bring more footfall to the heart of the city centre.

The flats complex was unanimously passed by the Planning Committee.

There were no objections to either application.

Last month the committee also approved plans to create a new flats complex in Bishop Street.

The application by Green Homes NI (Ltd) will see existing office space converted into 10 flats.

These will be created over the second and third storeys at 18-20 Bishop Street, on a corner plot with London Street above the Bedlam shops, (formerly Bookworm).

A Planning officer told the committee at the time that the building was in a conservation area and that no external changes would be made.