Full planning permission for the transformation of the massive Arntz site at Pennyburn has been granted by Derry & Strabane’s Planning Committee.
The range of developments planned for the vacant site could lead to the creation of over 330 jobs once it is built and a further 200 to 300 more construction jobs.
The applicant had sought permission for a medical facility, superstore, restaurant, filling station and other facilities at the 15 acre site were endorsed by the Committee after being recommended for approval by planners.
The planned facilities on the plot off the Buncrana Road will be accessed via Pennyburn Industrial Estate and Pennyburn Pass.
The amended plans, lodged by the applicant Arntz Belting Company Ltd through its agent McGurran Associates, include a 6,901 square metre NHS Medical Hub housing GPs and Practice Nurses, Community Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Home Help/ Support Staff.
They also include a 5,574 sqm foodstore unit.
The Derry site comprises both the former Arntz Belting factory and the former Eurocentre site.
In a report presented before the Committee, it was stated that the proposed mixed use scheme will result in a considerable increase in vehicle movements within the area, but that a revised scheme to deal with road related issues has been deemed acceptable by the Department for Infrastructure.
This will include, the Committee was told, new traffic light systems at the junction of Pennyburn Pass and Buncrana Road and at the junction of Springtown Road and Buncrana, as well as other measures to help traffic flow along the A2 Buncrana Road route until such times as the planned widening scheme is completed.
Translink had objected to the plans in November 2016, but the committee was told that no further objection has been received from Translink on a revised Transport Assessment.
A representative form Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) had urged the Council to defer a decision to address a range of issues he raised including flooding assessment issues and the impact on existing traders.
In terms of job creation, a Planning representative concluded: “The proposed mixed use scheme will have a major impact on the local economy and job creation.
“The total net job creation of the proposal, taking account of projected displacement, is 336 jobs, 195 for the superstore, 127 for the medical building and 14 for the restaurant.
“This would represent a significant investment in the economy of the North West and contribute to growth of the city and surrounding area.
“In addition, it is estimated, an additional 200 to 300 much needed construction jobs would be created over several years.
“All elements of the scheme will create direct employment which will improve and sustain the economy.”
Extensive research on retail impact on other shops was undertaken, with the Council employing a consultant to look at this.
The research undertaken reached the conclusion there was “plenty of scope” for the supermarket development, especially given that two other retail development proposals for the Waterside had expired this week, the planning officer said.
She said there would be an impact on the Springtown Centre, but that this was not expected to be significantly adverse.
Nor did the research point to significant adverse effect on city centre traders.
The Planning officer said: “It’s a regeneration opportunity and it is currently a vacant site and has been vacant for some time.”
After lengthy deliberation during the meeting, approval was recommended by Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue and 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 Committee unanimously backed the proposal.