Sinclair shirt factory approval ‘good news for Derry economy’

The former Robert Sinclair and Co. shirt factory on Abercorn Road will be converted into offices.
The former Robert Sinclair and Co. shirt factory on Abercorn Road will be converted into offices.

Planning officials have said that converting an historic former shirt factory into offices will provide an economic boost for Derry’s City Centre.

The comments came as officials confirmed they were granting permission for the former Sinclair and Co. shirt factory building to be regenerated to provide office accommodation.

The application by LM Investments Ltd involves a £5m investment in a building which Derry & Strabane Council’s Planning Committee was told on Thursday “has deteriorated over time”.

The company plans to convert the imposing B1-listed building ,which occupies a corner plot between Abercorn Road and Wapping Lane into “business offices and ancillary facilities”.

In detailing the Planners’ determination, a Planning Officer said: “It is a key landmark building located at a very prominent corner site on the main route into the city near the Craigavon Bridge.”

The permission comes just weeks after Listed Building Consent was granted along with permission to create 102 apartments at the site, prior to the current application for new offices.

The Planning document states that the building “will be sensitively restored to its former glory”, while the officer added:

“It is considered that the conversion of this historic building into office accommodation will play a key role in promoting economic prosperity and encouraging investment.

“The proposal will not only bring the building back into use but will also make a substantial contribution to the economy of the city.”

Sinn Fein Councillor Christopher Jackson said he was happy to propose the committee back the Planners’ recommendation of approval.

“This is an exciting proposal, given the economic benefits this will bring to the city and the much needed jobs”.

Colr. Jackson added that in relation to the earlier application for flats, “office space is a more appropriate use for this and isn’t going to impact on the character of this most important building”.

DUP Councillor Hilary McClintock, seconding the motion, said: “It will be great to see new life in this part of the city.”

SDLP Councillor John Boyle also said he welcomed the opportunity to help breathe new life into a landmark building.

“It is important to reflect we are bringing a 19th Century building back into use in the 21st Century,” Colr. Boyle said. The proposal to back the planners’ decision was unanimously endorsed by the committee.