£1m sale of Shackleton complete

An aerial view of the Shackleton site. Photo: Andy Cameron.
An aerial view of the Shackleton site. Photo: Andy Cameron.

The £1 million sale of the former army barracks in Ballykelly to a County Down manufacturing firm has been completed, it has been confirmed.

The former army base has been sold to MJM, which specialises in the fit-out of cruise ships and yachts. It intends to use the Shackleton site for a new business fitting out private planes which it said will create an initial 100 jobs, and say their vision is to expand that to more than 1,000 jobs as the 621 acre site is developed.

Shackleton was sold by the Northern Ireland Executive, which inherited the site from the Ministry of Defence.

An OFMDFM spokesperson said: “The Department completed the sale of the Shackleton site to the MJM Group on 29 April 2016. The MJM Group has ambitious plans to develop the site and this sale will deliver huge social and economic benefits for local people including the creation of employment opportunities.

“MJM has indicated it is keen to explore opportunities for co-operation and potential partnerships with some of the unsuccessful proposers to fully exploit the site and maximise job creation opportunities. This is now a matter for MJM as the owner of the Site.”

In the meantime, a film production company, Shackleton Studios Ltd, has said it “is concerned that the tenders submitted were not scrutinised and managed in an open way”.

In a statement, Shackleton Studios Ltd. said they were disappointed their tender was not chosen, and revealed they have written to OFMDFM “asking to be provided reasons justifying the decision that Shackleton Studios proposal should be rejected on the grounds that the tender hadn’t reached the minimum score for the Community Benefit or Environmental Benefit criteria”.

The company said their tender “would have created between 1,870 and 2,670 jobs in and around Derry” and said “as a matter of public law, Shackleton Studios is entitled to reasons for the decision, particularly given its significant impact on the Studios’ business, the economic benefit such a studio would deliver to the North West, and the investment that had already been made by Shackleton Studios in the site”.

The OFMDFM spokesperson said: “The assessment process was open, transparent and objective. All proposals from interested parties were assessed against the same criteria and detailed guidance on how proposals would be assessed was provided. The process also included a deliverability assessment which resulted in some of the proposals failing to meet the minimum requirements and being ruled out. The Department will respond to the correspondence received on 4th May 2016 from Shackleton Studios in due course.”