£40m health hub proposed for Arntz site

Artist's impression of how the proposed new Health Care Hub at Pennyburn could look.
Artist's impression of how the proposed new Health Care Hub at Pennyburn could look.

Proposals for a massive £40m new health centre on the former Arntz Belting site have been submitted as part of a revised masterplan.

Architects have drawn up detailed plans for a 75,000 sq ft multi-use heath care facility which would be the first in Derry’s cityside.

Artist's impression of how the proposed new Health Care Hub at Pennyburn could look.

Artist's impression of how the proposed new Health Care Hub at Pennyburn could look.

The building - which if it gets the green light would be financed by a joint investment from the public and private sectors - would occupy one end of the expansive Arntz site .

It is now a key feature of the masterplan application, which was re-submitted to planners in November, with hundreds of parking spaces and underground parking for staff. It replaces a much smaller 15,000 sq ft medical facility and third level research and development facilities in the original planning application, submitted earlier last year.

The lead consultant and architects behind the plans for the Health Care Hub, Kevin McGurran of McGurran Associates Ltd, said: “In terms of design concept we examined the best examples throughout the UK for new Health Care centres and feel that we have developed a unique and bespoke medical facility that integrates both primary and secondary care for all residents within the cityside area of Derry.”

Mr Gurran added: “The new Health Hub will provide both excellent health care through the provision of eight GP practices with 25 doctors and ancillary services as well as substantial investment and employment opportunities to the local community.”

We know there is a real need and a will for this facility within the Cityside, having met with the Health Board Steering Group.

Kevin McGurran

Engineering firm Arntz Belting Company, which made timing belts for vehicles and machinery, ceased operations back in 2010 with the loss of 115 jobs, but during a presentation back in July 2015 the local council was told the plans would result in 375 new full and part-time jobs and a further 300 construction jobs.

Proposals for the massive new health centre would see a wide range of NHS services come under the same roof for the first time.

The plans have been drawn taking into account the Western Health and Social Care Trust’s ‘Transforming Your Care’ programme, which involves treating more people in their own community.

Mr McGurran said: “We know there is a real need and a will for this facility within the Cityside, having met with the Health Board Steering Group.

The Arntz Belting factory site at Pennyburn which has been earmarked for a major redevelopment. (1611MM7)

The Arntz Belting factory site at Pennyburn which has been earmarked for a major redevelopment. (1611MM7)

“We believe the Arntz Belting site to be the best location for such a facility and the planning application has been amended to embrace this new medical hub.”

Mr McGurran said this would centralise healthcare services, specialists and departments under one roof, in common with modern healthcare approach to delivery of services in a flagship project for the cityside of Derry.

The proposals include GP surgeries and Consultants as well as an inhouse dentistry, x-ray department, podiatry, physiotherapy, paediatrics, occupational therapy, primary health care facilities along with space for strong records and offices.

It is understood the retail offering in the original planning application has been reduced to facilitate the plans.

Back in July the team at the helm of the project told Derry & Strabane Council that unlike some other large-scale proposed projects, money was already in place to develop the 14-acre site at Pennyburn Pass.

Speaking at the time they said the new developments would provide a realistic opportunity to not only bring much needed employment, but also to “strengthen the core” of Derry economically.