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Magherafelt building firm starts 2017 with £110m of new projects

By Rachel Martin

Co Londonderry construction firm Heron Bros has announced it already has more than £110m of work lined up for 2017 - amid plans for the company to expand further into Scotland.

Jobs include three Belfast leisure centres, Dairy Hall leisure complex in Newtownards and Belfast's new Porsche dealership, while work in Scotland includes a primary school in Renfrewshire and a family centre in East Renfrewshire.

The firm which is based in Magherafelt employs more than 250 people and has already started work on the Belfast Leisure Transformation Programme, Belfast City Council's largest ever single capital contract - a deal worth around £105m.

As part of the contract, this year Heron Bros will begin work on three new leisure centres across the city replacing existing facilities at Andersonstown Leisure Centre, the Robinson Centre and Brook Activity Centre. The three projects have a combined value of £60m.

Preparatory works have already begun at the Robinson Centre and building is scheduled to start at Andersonstown and Brook in the summer. All three are scheduled for completion by summer 2019.

Also in Belfast, work is under way at the £4.5m Porsche dealership, with work expected to finish in late 2017.

Work on the £30m leisure centre in Newtownards will begin next month with construction expected to take around 20 months - due to finish in October 2018.

The multi-million pound leisure complex at Dairy Hall will include three swimming pools, a gym, spa facilities, spin and dance studios, six-court sports hall, changing areas, internal play areas, party rooms, cafe and catering areas. The outdoor facilities are to include a covered pitch, outdoor play areas, adventure park and skate park and mountain bike track.

This year Heron Bros is also set to continue their drive to push for contracts in Scotland. The firm was recently awarded two projects to the west of Glasgow.

The Northern Ireland firm opened its first Scottish base in the city four years ago.

In May, Damien O'Callaghan, the executive manager of Heron Bros, said the construction trade in Northern Ireland was "completely dead". Adding that the firm was actively pursuing work in Great Britain.

In Renfrewshire, Heron Bros has been appointed as main contractor of the £14m Bargarran Primary School, St John's Bosco Joint Faith Primary School and Nursery.

The project involves the construction of a new two-storey building to replace the existing two adjacent schools.

The work will be carried out in phases to ensure the safe running of both existing schools while the new shared building is being constructed.

Work is scheduled to last 185 weeks and is due to start next month with handover expected in January 2019.

The second contract, the £5m Arthurlie Family Centre in East Renfrewshire, will see the firm build a nursery for 170 children. The project is to take 42 weeks with work due to start this month and is expected to be completed by November.

Damian Heron, Heron Bros group managing director, said: "The Belfast Leisure Transformation Programme and the New Ards Leisure facility will enable us to expand on our impressive portfolio of leisure facilities whilst providing significant community benefits to the wider Belfast and Newtownards areas.

"Heron Bros will deliver a world-class, luxury Porsche dealership in Titanic Belfast illustrating our continued ability to construct high-end facilities.

"Bargarran Primary school further cements our reputation on high quality education projects, whilst the Arthurlie Family Centre showcases our expertise in delivering specialist education and secure facilities."

In its latest accounts Heron Bros had a turnover in excess of £57m - up more than £5m on 2014-15.

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