Belfast Telegraph

Expansion green light would create new jobs

Foyleside Shopping Centre in Londonderry could be set for a £100m expansion if new proposals announced today are approved.

The expansion proposals involve the creation of a further 235,000 sq ft of additional retail space, an office block of 67,000 sq ft and a nine-screen cinema.

The expansion would include additional car-parking space.

Boston-based developers O'Connell Brothers opened Foyleside in 1995 and it is currently the largest shopping centre in Northern Ireland outside of Victoria Square in Belfast.

The proposed extension would be constructed on the lands opposite the centre currently occupied by Orchard House which is an existing Government office building.

Also in the current site is Foyleside East car park as well as Derry City Council's Visitor and Convention Bureau.

It is estimated the total cost of the Foyleside expansion would be in the region of £100m.

If granted, it is predicted that the expansion work would take more than two years to complete.

The developers believe it would generate an estimated 500 construction jobs and a further 300 full-time jobs for Derry - a much-needed boost to the local workforce.

They have entered into preliminary discussions with the Department of Finance and Personnel and the Department for Social Development about acquiring the land, which may include buying Orchard House and relocating its tenants to the proposed new office block overlooking the river on the Foyle embankment.

BTWShiells, the scheme's managing agent, said the discussions were "exploratory in nature" and the departments were keeping an open mind about the proposals.

Criona Collins of BTWShiells said the proposals represented "a major boost for Derry especially at a time when the local property market is starved of new development following the credit crunch".

Derry City Council confirmed preliminary discussions had taken place between the developers and the council in relation to the overall concept and its likely impact on the future of the Derry Visitors Centre Bureau site and the wider city centre.