Public money needed for Tillie’s site plans

The former Tillie and Henderson site. (0302PG04)
The former Tillie and Henderson site. (0302PG04)

The owners of the former Tillie and Henderson’s factory site have said plans to build a hotel there are dependent on public money.

Rajesh Rana from Andras House, the Belfast based hotels and property firm, told local councillors this week that an application will be made to Invest NI for funding to redevelop the site.

He also told councillors that the Andras House group are preparing to lodge plans to build a 139 bedroom mid-market hotel at the site at a cost of £10 million.

The son of Indian-born businessman Diljit Rana also said 15 river front apartments are planned for the site.

Councillors were also told the proposed hotel would create around 80 jobs during the construction period and 70 when completed.

Una Somerville from Todd Architects said the height of the planned building has been reduced to keep it in line with the height of the original shirt factory building to maintain the existing skyline.

Councillors were shown an artist’s impression of the proposed hotel but the architects refused to release the image to the press.

The image shown at the meeting was of a square brown brick building, similar to the Richmond Centre, with glass frontage at the Carlisle Circus and Abercorn Road levels.

SDLP councillor Helen Quigley welcomed the progress on the redevelopment and encouraged the developers to work with the planning service. “If we are dependent on a funding package from Invest NI I would be anxious to hear a timescale of when we would be likely to be onsite,” she said.

Sinn Féin colr. Maeve McLaughlin said if the proposals are approved by the planning service then the building project must create employment locally.

“A £10 million investment and the creation of 70 jobs would be welcomed but it is absolutely vital that social employment clauses are built into any development at the site. We will be keeping our eyes on the ball to see that happens.

“It is also critical that this links into the wider regeneration of the Foyle Valley Gateway area,” she said.

Colr McLaughlin also raised concerns on the need for Invest NI funding for the project.

“This city has not been behind the door in looking for our fair share of INI funding but it has not always come so we will be keeping a close eye on this project,” she said