First look: Plans for Arntz site in Derry

Those behind plans for a £100m development at the former Arntz site in Derry have spoken of their delight after planning permission was granted for the entire project.

Robert Moore, Managing Director of Arntz Belting Company Ltd told the Journal following the decision that they could now honour a commitment made with the closure of the belting factory in 2010 to give something back to Derry.

An image from a video showing how the Medical Hub might look on site. (McGurran Associates Limited)

An image from a video showing how the Medical Hub might look on site. (McGurran Associates Limited)

The plan for a new state-of-the-art, four-storey medical hub, a retail superstore, a restaurant, forecourt, and 800 car parking spaces on the 15-acre site was approved by Derry & Strabane’s planning committee on Wednesday following protracted deliberations.

The range of developments planned could lead to the creation of over 330 jobs once it is operating as well as a further 200 to 300 construction jobs, the committee was told.

Speaking about the outcome, Mr Moore said: “We are delighted it has gone through at last.

“It will regenerate the entire Pennyburn region and we look forward with great excitement and anticipation to see the development take place.

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)

“This is going to be in excess of £100m so it is not a small investment.

“It’s been a long arduous journey. Back in 2010 in Germany, we made the announcement that with the sad news of the closure because of the economic downturn, we wanted to leave a legacy in recognition of the workers in Arntz, who had been there for 45 years at that time.

We are coming up to 50th anniversary and we are now fulfilling that legacy.”

Kevin McGurran from the applicant’s agent McGurran Associates Limited, who gave a presentation on the plans before the committee, said: “There will obviously be ongoing negotiations with the Health Trust’s steering committee, and there are ongoing negotiations with the retail operators but we are expecting to have boots on the ground by the end of this calendar year.”

Mr McGurran said there was “genuine interest in the site”, adding: “This will not be a white elephant; this will be developed.”

Full planning permission was granted following a recommendation from Planners to approve. The facilities on the plot off the Buncrana Road will be accessed via Pennyburn Industrial Estate and Pennyburn Pass.

The plans include a 6,901 square metre NHS Medical Hub housing GPs and Practice Nurses, Community Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Home Help Staff, while the food storage unit will be 5,574 sqm.

The Planning Committee unanimously backed the proposal, following a recommendation to do so from Sinn Fein Colr. Patricia Logue, seconded by her colleague Tony Hassan.

Colr. Hassan said: “This committee is fully responsible for regeneration and development of the city and this application in my view will regenerate this part of the city. The biggest thing about this is well is the 350 odd jobs and we just can’t walk away from that. It is brilliant news.”