New government HQ in Ballykelly ‘on schedule’

The site of the new DAERA HQ in Ballykelly. Photo: JH Turkington & Sons Ltd
The site of the new DAERA HQ in Ballykelly. Photo: JH Turkington & Sons Ltd

Construction of new government headquarters in Ballykelly is “on course and on budget” with 240 staff set to move into the building in 2018.

That’s the latest from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) on the construction of the new building and new entrance, off Ballykelly Road.

“Construction on the new building and access road is scheduled to be completed by January 2018. The project remains on target and within budget,” said a DAERA spokesperson.

The department say there are presently 22 people on site, and the construction has not encountered any significant problems to date.

With regards staffing, the spokesperson said: “A Staff Transition Plan has been developed that sets out the first phase of functions and posts that will relocate to Ballykelly between 2018 and 2021. This plan will see at least 320 DAERA posts relocate by 2021 - 240 in early 2018 when the building is completed.”

The decision to decentralise government jobs to the North West was that of former agriculture minister, Michelle O’Neill.

Mrs. O’Neill’s party colleague. Sinn Fein Colr. Dermot Nicholl said it’s great to see the project taking shape.

“It’s good to see it progressing so rapidly and I think this is a welcome boost for the area and will bring benefits to the region. I hope it encourages other departments to decentralise jobs from the Belfast area to the North West,” said Colr. Nicholl.

“I think the public, in general, are glad this is happening but I don’t think the community will apreciate the enormity of this until the building is open and staff are here.”

The former DAERA minister, Michelle McIlveen revealed in January the total cost of relocating the Department’s headquarters to Ballykelly was likely to exceed £33m. The figure, which was newly revealed by departmental officials, included both capital and current spending. Three million of the £33.3m sum had already been spent on the project to date, the Minister revealed.

The ‘Journal’ revealed in August last year that £600,000 was paid for the 0.4 hectares of land in Ballykelly for the new access road.

The £12 million contract to build the new department headquarters in Ballykelly was awarded to JH Turkington and Sons in March 2016.