Former army base ‘open for business’

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Sinn Fein East Derry MLA Cathal O’hOisin claims the former Shackleton army barracks in Ballykelly is “open for business” and the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) “will be calling for expressions of interest to come forward”.

Last week, the ‘Journal’ revealed the OFMDFM had taken control of the site after the conclusion of the MoD sales process for former military base site failed to attract satisfactory bids.

An OFMDFM spokesperson said: “In our view, these bids did not reflect the potential worth of the site and that more effort should be devoted to obtaining better value. We, therefore, decided that OFMDFM should take control of the site. Work is currently underway to examine the options for this site which will include an assessment of its economic potential. Following receipt of this report, we will decide if any public sector options for the site should be explored further.”

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ yesterday, the assemblyman said: “It means it’s back in the department and this is good news and could be potentially be very lucrative for the entire North West economy. There was some consideration last week about restorative work that may have to take place in some parts of the complex but this is a huge area and much of it new build and would be suitable for a wide variety of puproses including community, educational, recreational and industrial use. The OFMDFM have said this is now the case and will be looking for suggestions going forward. I suppose it’s the green light for the likes of the Ballykelly Community and Youth Association to come forward and pitch their business case. I would encourage community groups and businesses and anyone with an interest in the site to make a pitch and get ready their business cases to be submitted to the OFMDFM. I see the huge potential of this massive site to the wider north west economy.”