Derry Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has said she is confident work to ensure construction can start on a multi-million pound retirement village complex in Derry is nearing completion.
The ‘West Shore Thornhill’ project has been designed to deliver a retirement and community complex for people aged 55 and over, similar to those in existence in the US, central Europe and Scandinavia. It has previously been hailed as a vital project that will help cater for Derry’s ageing population, bring jobs and regenerate the region.
Colr, Duffy said: “I am now confident that the final issues regarding securing full planning consent to allow the development to commence are in the final stages and looking forward to this exciting development commencing in early–mid 2020.
“The development of this site into a retirement village will help regenerate this part of Culmore and with all the rest of the projects in Culmore such as the proposed new Community Centre, Victoria Hall, Culmore Country Park at Coney Road and the 3g Pitch, it is a very much welcomed, good news story for the Culmore area.”
A legal planning agreement to pave the way for the development was signed off in January 2019, enabling the developers apply for detailed reserved matters applications, while planning officers also signed off on outline planning permission.
The plans by applicants JTJ (Thornhill) Limited include retaining three buildings at the front of the site for a Community Hub, community services and a site warden space, while demolishing and redeveloping the remaining buildings to provide a 65-bed care home and 68 semi-independent living units. Services will include a medical centre, fitness suite and sauna/spa, restaurant and coffee shop, hairdressers, library/IT suite, cinema room, mentoring space, arts and crafts rooms, laundrette and taxi rank.
The Thornhill site has been lying derelict for over a decade and has become a magnet for vandalism and anti-social activity, Colr. Duffy said. “Sinn Féin has been working closely with the developers over the past five years to get this proposed development to a point where it could be approved and supported by Council and indeed the wider community in Culmore,” she said, adding that the retirement village is “a big step towards providing much needed suitable accommodation for the retired and elderly in the community. It also shows the need for bungalow-type accommodation in the city.”
“The regeneration of the Culmore area is a top priority for me as a councillor, and working alongside the Culmore Community Partnership I commend the developers and Council for bringing this project to the stage of approval and look forward to work starting and the completion of this exciting development for the city,” she added.