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Tycoon renews bid to build £10m hotel on factory site

Hotel magnate Lord Diljit Rana has lodged new plans for a £10m hotel at a historic factory site in Londonderry.

In a long-running saga lasting almost a decade, the man behind the Andras House firm has submitted yet another proposal for the former location of the Tillie and Henderson building, which once towered above the entrance to the west bank of the city at the end of the Craigavon Bridge.

The new plans include a 5,600 square metre building with glass frontage at the Carlisle Circus and Abercorn Road junction, incorporating a 139-bedroom hotel, two retail units and 15 apartments with car parking facilities and associated works.

The plans provide for a building with seven floors, three underground and four above ground.

Earlier this year, Lord Rana's son Rajesh told Derry City Council that an application would be made to Invest NI for funding to redevelop the site in a scheme which would create around 80 jobs during the construction period and 70 when completed.

An intention to submit the new plans was announced in December 2010.

A previous development plan was rejected in 2005.

The Andras House portfolio, the biggest in Northern Ireland, includes five hotels and apartments with over 700 bedrooms and has been operating since 1990.

The stable incorporates the Holiday Inn Express, the Ramada Plaza Shaw's Bridge, Days Hotel, the Ibis City Centre, the Ibis Queen's Quarter, Cordia Apartments and Cordia Lodge, all in Belfast.

However, success with the landmark Tillie building - which was one of the biggest shirt factories in Europe and was mentioned by Karl Marx in Das Kapital - has always eluded him.

The site has lain empty since the imposing red brick building was razed in 2003 after a serious arson attack, one of a series.

Built in 1856, the factory was seen as a symbol of Derry's once-booming textile industry.

Responding to previous criticisms about the new complex not being in keeping with the surrounding area, a spokeswoman from Todd Architects has said that the height of the planned building had been reduced to keep it in line with the height of the original shirt factory building to maintain the existing skyline.

Rajesh Rana has defended the seeking of funding from Invest NI.

"This is an important site for Derry but it is also an expensive site to develop," he said.

Meanwhile, the McGinnis Group has also submitted an application to build a 100-bed hotel and supermarket on land adjacent to the Caw roundabout on the Clooney Road, not far from two major shopping developments at Crescent Link.