Work on £11m Magee teaching block grinds to halt

Learning Minister Stephen Farry with Professor Alastair Adair, Acting Vice-Chancellor, Ulster University, and Professor Deirdre Heenan, Magee Campus Provost, at the announcement of the new �11 million teaching block in April 2015.
Learning Minister Stephen Farry with Professor Alastair Adair, Acting Vice-Chancellor, Ulster University, and Professor Deirdre Heenan, Magee Campus Provost, at the announcement of the new �11 million teaching block in April 2015.

Ulster University has claimed it is working to progress the £11m teaching block at Magee continues after work ground to a halt due to the firm behind the project going into administration.

Work on the two-year build project had to be suspended after one of the firms involved, Newtonabbey-based T&A Kernoghan Limited, ran into difficulties.

Michael Jennings and Brian Murphy of BDO Northern Ireland have been appointed as Joint Administrators over T&A Kernoghan Limited by the Company’s secured lenders as of yesterday (Thursday).

In a statement, BDO said today: “A winding up petition had been presented against the Company by one of its creditors and this has subsequently been supported by a number of other creditors.

“Together, with the directors notifying the secured lender of the insolvency of a connected company within the Group, they subsequently invited the secured lender to appoint administrators to the Company.

“Following our appointment, it is with regret that due to the extent of the Company’s financial difficulties, the Joint Administrators have been required to make all staff redundant and cease operations across the various building sites throughout the UK.

“The Administrators and their staff will be responsible for maximising value for the Company’s stakeholders through the realisation of the remaining assets of the Company.”

The Journal understands that the PSNI were called to the scene last Friday in relation to building materials on the works site.

An Ulster University spokeswoman said: “The University continues to manage the construction work underway to ensure the continued progress of the development of the new teaching block at our Magee campus.”

The teaching block was approved by Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry in April 2015.

The 4,000 sq metres new building is expected to include a 340 seat lecture theatre, 20 classrooms and a cafe once completed.

Speaking about the project last April, Learning Minister Stephen Farry said: “It is vital that we have modern facilities in our higher education institutions to provide the best quality environment for teaching and research, and to ensure that in turn we are supporting our economy.

“This development is a strong signal of the importance of the Magee campus to the economy in the north west.

“This new teaching block will address the existing pressures on capacity and also facilitate some further investments in the numbers of students should the current business case from the Derry-Londonderry Strategy Board be approved, and the recurrent revenue funding found by the NI Executive.”