Work on the new Ebrington Hotel is due to begin this summer while the reconstruction of the parade ground and a new site entrance will be completed within weeks.
The N. I. Executive Office has confirmed a raft of developments at the 26-acres site, with a new public car park with capacity for over 250 vehicles set to open at the former army base this Autumn.
The resurfacing of the north west’s largest outdoor events arena at Ebrington Parade Ground has now been largely completed, with the total cost coming in at £385,000.
The solid aggregate concrete surface and lawn works were undertaken due to problems with the loose, gravel-type surface installed during the original £7.5m redevelopment works in 2011. The Executive Office has previously said that these issues included health and safety concerns, poor drainage and blowing sands during prolonged dry spells.
A spokesperson for the Executive Office has now confirmed to the ‘Journal’: “Ebrington Square is nearing completion and will be ready for use soon. The resurfacing element is already complete and open to the public. The grassed areas will be opened to the public once the grass has bedded in properly.”
Commenting on the new route into Ebrington from the Limavady Road, he added: “The new access road will be completed in June, 2019 and will open to the public on Monday, July 1.”
He also confirmed that the 256 space car park “will be open to the general public” and “will be operational by the Autumn of 2019.”
The works at the temporary car park will cost in the region of £180,000.
Construction work on the new 152-bed Ebrington Hotel is set to get under way in August, the N. Ireland Executive has confirmed.
The £multi-million development will see the redevelopment of the flagship Clock Tower building transformed into a state-of-the art facility.
Developers, Ebrington Leisure Holdings Ltd., were granted planning permission in May, 2018, to take forward the major hotel development.
The hotel will see the transformation of three listed buildings, including the former soldiers’s quarters at the Clock Tower , into a large hotel with a leisure spa, function/meeting room, restaurant and bar facilities. The hotel will be accessed via the new Limavady Road entrance.
The hotel is seen as a key piece of infrastructure in unlocking the economic potential of the Ebrington site.
A spokesman for the Executive Office said: “Construction of the hotel is planned to start in August, 2019, with the planned opening in March, 2021.”
FORMER SCHOOL HOUSES
In terms of other developments at Ebrington, the NI Executive said: “Phase 5 Marketing is near completion for buildings 115/116 [one-storey former Boys’ School and Girls’ School Houses at the entrance along St. Columb’s Road].
“This is commercially sensitive until completion of legal agreements,” the spokesman said, adding: “Phase 6 Marketing will be released early June.”
Earlier this year, the Executive Office confirmed that it has committed £3.45m million towards the development of a new top grade office complex at Ebrington once it is completed.
A planning application has been lodged by Heron Brothers for the 50,000 sq ft office complex, which is to be constructed on an existing enabling platform built in 2013/14 above a 214-space underground car park, which is accessed off the King Street roundabout.
The Ebrington site has been used as a military base as far back as the Siege of Derry in 1689, when it became a staging post for Jacobite forces to bombard the Walled City, which was loyal to King William, with cannons.
It was a base for Allied Forces during both World Wars and the Naval Forces during WWII.
Ebrington had been off limits to the Derry public for generations but was vacated by the British Army in 2002 before being handed over for the benefit of local people.
The Peace Bridge, which opened in 2011, linked the site to the city centre, followed by Ebrington Square in 2012, and hosted large scale events during the City of Culture year and on occasion since.
Current businesses operating at Ebrington include the Walled City Brewery restaurant, Ollie’s Cafe, the Creative Hub and the Enterprise Hub.
A Maritime Museum and Archive Centre was supposed to open off Ebrington Square in early 2020 but the council confirmed earlier this year that it was still exploring funding options for the project.
A spokesperson for the council confirmed back in March that while a significant portion of the £11.25m needed for the long-awaited project has been fully committed, a further £6.5m had been committed “in principle,” but not yet released.
Meanwhile Foyle MP Elisha McCallion said in February that a multi-million pound Distillery and Visitor Centre project at Ebrington Square was back on schedule after a series of meetings she was involved in led to additional investment being secured.
The project had been shelved last November when a new distillery tax introduced by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer impacted on its viability.
The ‘Quiet Man’ Distillery & Visitor Centre is expected to be the first whiskey distillery to open in the city for nearly 200 years.