Belfast Telegraph

TAL set to create science park at Massereene barracks

By Sara Neill

A Co Antrim construction firm has won a £3.1m contract to develop Randox's futuristic science park at the former Massereene army barracks.

Lisburn-based TAL, which employs 70 people, will oversee the transformation of the 43-acre piece of land at Antrim into an innovative manufacturing hub.

The first phase of the development includes a new facility where Randox will produce its medical diagnostic products, with work set to begin later this month.

It is a significant contract for TAL, which has previously carried out the refurbishment of Queen's School of Architecture Building and the extension of the recently opened Museum of Orange Heritage in east Belfast.

Director Damien Hughes said: "We are delighted to have been awarded this contract with Randox, one of Northern Ireland's most dynamic and exciting businesses on a local and global level.

"Through the quality of our work and the dedication and professionalism of our team TAL has steadily grown over the last 34 years and this contract award reinforces the strength of our expertise in the healthcare sector."

The appointment of a Lisburn company is a boost for the local construction industry, which is continuing to weather the storm of the economic downturn.

Randox managing director Dr Peter FitzGerald said: "The development of Randox Science Park is core to our plans to create innovative diagnostics, to improve manufacturing efficiency to export high-value healthcare capabilities to world markets.

"This state-of-the-art premises will become a centre of cutting-edge research, development and diagnostic manufacture, covering conditions such as cancer, stroke and heart disease. We will also provide a significant boost to the local economy through new job creation.

"We very much look forward to working with TAL on this initial contract to deliver the high quality infrastructure we require."

A Randox spokesperson said the firm was delighted to be supporting the wider economy through the deal.

The clinical diagnostic company was founded in Crumlin, and has kept its local roots. The architects, consultants and engineers appointed to the science park project all have bases in Northern Ireland.

Construction Employers Federation managing director John Armstrong believes the appointment is a step in the right direction for NI businesses.

"This demonstrates that Northern Ireland companies punch above their weight in the quality of work they deliver," he said.

"Projects of this quality and scale are very welcome at this time, and we know firms here build to a very high quality and high specification. But we still need to see more construction activity going on."

TAL's projects are not limited to Northern Ireland, as the firm also begins its first contract in London this month, converting a four-storey office into high quality apartments.

However, there are calls for more work within Northern Ireland. Mr Armstrong said: "We're seeing a lot of companies doing very well on the back of work being picked up outside Northern Ireland. But we've also got to see that on the ground within Northern Ireland.

"The recovery here has been much slower than in GB, and construction is fundamental to a growing economy. Without it, your economy isn't growing."

Belfast Telegraph