'I still want to build hotel on Tillie's site'- says Lord Rana

Hotelier Diljit Rana says he has every intention of building an hotel on the former Tillie and Henderson site in Derry,

Lord Rana rejected criticism that he had taken too long over plans for the development of the former shirt factory site.

"Our initial plans were turned down by councillors and the planners and we're trying to get things right this time," he told the Sunday Journal.

"My architects are currently working on plans and are talking to the Environmental Heritage Service about what we have in mind," he said.

He admitted it was seven years since he announced he wanted to build on the site.

And he added: "It could be a few months yet before we are ready to make any announcement but when we do I would like to think there will be a general welcome for our plans in what is a prime location in the city. It's the planning that has been holding the project back," he claimed.

"What we are planning is a major development and needs the co-operation of all concerned."

He rejected criticism from Sinn Fein Councillor Maeve McLaughlin that they should be doing more to stop the derelict site becoming a haven for anti-social behaviour.

"I don't believe this is a problem of our making and should be dealt with by the appropriate authorities," Lord Rana stated.

The Tillie and Henderson shirt factory was demolished amidst controversy following a massive fire six years ago. The site was cleared and has lain derelict since.

Councillor McLaughlin accused Lord Rana of being unconcerned about the people of Derry. She said community workers and local residents were concerned that young people were able to gain easy access to the site and there were also concerns about it becoming a interface flashpoint

In a scathing statement Colr. McLaughlin blasted Dilgit Rana saying residents had asked her to visit the site on umpteen occasions worried about the "dangerous conditions" which are there.

"The attitude of the owner of this site is unacceptable and I am calling on Environmental Health officials to take action to force Lord Rana to either clean up the site and make it safe or build on it," she said.

Ample time

"The condition that he has allowed this site to get into would not be tolerated in any other city that prides itself on its architectural and scenic heritage. Diljit Rana has had ample time to develop this site but to date there are no planning proposals submitted to the Planning authority.

"This site is the gateway to our historic city, it is the first site that many tourists see on arrival and it is detrimental to all the efforts by Derry City Council, tourist organisations and others who are attempting to promote Derry as a tourist destination," she added.