Plans to develop Londonderry military barracks gain approval
Plans to regenerate a massive military barracks in the heart of Londonderry have been given the go-ahead.
Development of the 10.5 hectare site at Ebrington is expected to include a museum, hotel, office space, cafes and restaurants as well as residential accommodation.
The proposal is the largest single regeneration site in Derry and approval was granted within 10 months.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: "This is good news for the city and wider region.
"This application sets out a blueprint that will be a boost for business, tourism and people in the area by revitalising the 1840s site with new homes, offices, cafes, restaurants and museum and arts facilities.
"It will also bring many construction jobs in the short term as well as long term job creation."
Ebrington was first designated for military use during the siege of Derry in 1689, with construction of the permanent barracks completed in 1841.
The original barracks were in the shape of a star fort and are laid out on three sides overlooking the city and River Foyle.
The former parade ground has become Ebrington Square - a cultural hub and venue which hosted key events during Derry's year as European City of Culture in 2013 and provided the backdrop for major MTV and Radio One gigs.
It is linked to the city-side by the multi-million pound Peace Bridge, which opened in 2011.
Mr Durkan added: "Approval of this development framework provides certainty on the scale and type of development that will be acceptable. It will provide a masterplan for the physical regeneration and investment priorities for this pivotal site."
Meanwhile, DUP First Minister Peter Robinson has also welcomed the announcement.
He said: "This is another positive step in regenerating the North West and is part of our wider plans to create the conditions to revitalise and rejuvenate the Ebrington site."
Deputy First Minister and Derry native Martin McGuinness said: The further development of the Ebrington site will transform not just the landscape of the city but also the economic prospects of the North West.
"We must make every effort to create jobs for people and developing the site at Ebrington enables us to provide a compelling proposition to potential investors."