For years the army base in Ballykelly was off limits to villagers but, with the planned relocation of hundreds of Civil Service jobs to the more than 700-acre site, government officials say that’s set to change.
The Department of Agriculture has submitted planning permission for a £20 million state-of-the-art building to at least 600 civil servants they hope will start working from the new headquarters in Ballykelly by the end of 2017.
At more than 70,000 square feet, the design team behind the plans say they’ve worked hard to ensure the new headquarters integrate sensitively with the rest of the village and surrounding landscape.
“The big change is we’re replacing a solid fence with something which is completely open so, for the first time in a generation, this part of the village is part of the village again and that’s very important,” said architect Mark Haslett of Hamilton Architects.
“We have tried to work on that and develop that as part of the design.”
With views of Binevenagh and the Sperrins, and across Lough Foyle to Inishowen, Mr Haslett said every desk position boasts a stunning view.
Gerry Lavery, DARD deputy secretary, described it as “a milestone project”. Approximately £600,000 has been spent on clearing the site to date, he said, but once all staff are at their desks the final investment will be £20 million. This will also include the price of land needed for a new entrance, located just on the edge of the village, on the Limavady side.
Mr Haslett said the building has been designed to maximise its environmental potential.
“A very high target has been given to us from the department in terms of our sustainability rating and those targets have to be met.”
He added: “We don’t want this to take over - we want it to have its place. We are delighted with it and we have a lot more work to do to make sure what you see today is what you see in two and half year’s time.”
For the first time in a generation, this part of the village is part of the village again and that’s very important.Architect Mark Haslett
Read more - New DARD HQ ‘part of village life’