The relocation of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) to rural Co Londonderry has come a step closer as the lead contractor on the multi-million pound project was announced.
JH Turkington and Sons is to start building work on the department's new Ballykelly premises in July in a £12m deal - and the first group of civil servants will move to their new workplace at the former Shackleton Barracks by the end of this year.
Ultimately 600 civil servants at the new Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs will be employed on the site.
JH Turkington is a well-established property development firm best known in recent years for its work on major supermarkets, such as Tesco Extra superstores in Craigavon and Newry.
The Ballykelly site, which was gifted to the Northern Ireland Executive by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), has now been divided into three. Newry fit-out firm MJM has bought a 621 acre portion of the site, while the new Department of Agriculture premises will occupy 8.7 acres.
A small part of the site has also been adapted for use by Northern Ireland Water.