15 years on from masterplan: Concerns over ‘slow progress’ at Fort George
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The DUP representative was speaking as he gave a cautious welcome to the recent land disposal at Fort George for a new cityside health hub.
It is now over 15 years since the publication of the Fort George masterplan, following earlier stated ambitions to create a ‘prestigious technology and/ or knowledge intensive park’, which ‘may include a mix of office, education, research activities together with residential and leisure use’.
Part of the site has now been sold to the Western Trust for the development of the cityside hub, it was confirmed last week.
This comes five years after an exercise in 2018, which resulted in he Department for Communities agreeing to work with the Trust ‘to develop their proposal for a new Health and Care Centre (HCC) on the banks of the River Foyle’.
"The sale has now finalised and the land has been disposed of to the Western Health & Social Care Trust,” the department said.
The transfer of land marks the first significant development since the Catalyst Innovation Hub opened at Fort George in 2014.
Mr Middleton said: "Whilst I welcome the progress made in terms of the disposal of land, this represents only 1.7 acres of the total 11-acre Fort George site.
“The development of the Health and Care Centre is anticipated to create 250 new permanent jobs as well as centralising approximately 450 posts in the modern state of the art facility. That is positive and welcome news.
“We now need to see further progress on the rest of this strategic regeneration site. Fort George is in a prime location and the offering in the site should also reflect on the needs of the city and the need for economic growth.”
Mr Middleton said he would be engaging with the Department for Communities further over the coming weeks “to push for further developments."
SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan has also called for ‘more ambitious plans for this strategically important development site which would be better utilised for something that adds real value economically to the city and beyond’.