Thornhill Retirement Village: Planning agreement paves the way for Culmore development

An artist's impression of part of the retirement village.
An artist's impression of part of the retirement village.

Mayor John Boyle has signed off on a legal agreement that will pave the way for the development of a Retirement Complex at the site of the former Thornhill College site on Culmore Road, in Derry.

The signing of the Section 76 legal agreement means that developers can now apply for detailed reserved matters applications for the development while planning officers also signed off on the outline planning permission.

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, John Boyle pictured signing the Planning Obligation under Section 76 of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Act 2011 documentation for Lands at Thornhill College, Culmore Road, Derry at the Guildhall on Friday last. Included from left are Andree McNee, Principal Planning Officer, Sarah Barrett, Senior Planning Officer and Fiona Long, Project Manager.

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, John Boyle pictured signing the Planning Obligation under Section 76 of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Act 2011 documentation for Lands at Thornhill College, Culmore Road, Derry at the Guildhall on Friday last. Included from left are Andree McNee, Principal Planning Officer, Sarah Barrett, Senior Planning Officer and Fiona Long, Project Manager.

The application was made by JTJ (Thornhill) Limited and includes plans to retain three existing buildings at the front of the site to provide a Community Hub Building, Community Services Building and Site Warden Building and see the demolition and redevelopment of the remaining buildings to provide a 65 bed care home and 68 semi-independent living units.

The application also includes plans to remodel the former tennis courts on the site to provide a multi-use games area and allotments and remodel other parts of the site to incorporate formal landscape gardens and associated access, parking, drainage and landscape enhancement works.

Speaking at Friday’s signing of the legal agreement at the Guildhall, which was attended by representatives from the Council’s Planning Department and the developers involved in the application, Mayor Boyle said he welcomed that fact that the well-known site will return to working use and that the facility will be used to provide quality homes for the elderly.

He said: “The Thornhill site is one of historical significance in our City and has been disused and lying derelict and in a poor state of repair since the school’s relocation in 2003. I warmly welcome the fact that it can be repopulated and regenerated through signing of this Article 76 legal planning agreement.

“It has taken a period of time to bring this significant project to this crucial stage with Council working in partnership with all the statutory agencies and consultees to work collaboratively to bring this to fruition.

“This development will not only see the redevelopment of a much loved site but it will provide quality tailored living space and support facilities for older people, allowing them to maintain their independence. A key element of this development is the fact the character of the original buildings will also be protected and maintained and a very visual derelict space will now be totally regenerated and restored to its former glory,” he added.

In July last year, members of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Planning Committee approved outline planning permission for the development. However due to the special circumstances at the brownfield site, the full application could not be agreed without a Section 76 Legal Agreement, that restricts the occupancy of the dwellings/apartments to a retirement age of over 55+ and ensures it does not become a housing development in the countryside.