Landmark hospital site in Omagh is up for sale
The former Tyrone County Hospital in Omagh has gone on the market, two years after it was closed to make way for the town's new primary care complex.
In February it emerged that £560,000 had been spent on security and maintenance at the old site since June 2017.
The bulk has been spent on maintaining a security presence on the 20-acre site.
The focal point for healthcare in Tyrone's county town for 118 years, the Omagh hospital led the emergency response to the August 1998 Real IRA bomb which claimed the lives of 29 people and unborn twins, and saw many more sustain injury.
The former hospital and some 25 accompanying buildings were initially offered to public bodies around Northern Ireland.
But with little appetite to take on the site, it will now go to the highest bidder on the private market.
Real estate firm Lisney said the scale of the site could lend itself to uses including a hotel, retail, office, leisure or residential - all subject to planning permission.
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The site comprises a large number of existing buildings, extending to 150,000 sq ft, including the main hospital block, laboratory, outpatient department and administration buildings.
There are also numerous residential accommodation buildings, a tennis court and 10 car parks providing 275 spaces.
However, the Western Trust has confirmed that the site up for sale does not include the area behind the main hospital building occupied by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.
It has been brought to market by property agents Lisney, with the price only available upon application.
Andrew Gawley, director at Lisney, said: "Sites such as this are in demand due to the location, size and redevelopment possibilities, and as such, we anticipate strong levels of interest in this opportunity.
"The vast scale of this site lends itself to various uses including a hotel, retail, office, leisure or residential - all subject to planning permission."
The former hospital is largely bounded by residential dwellings.
Mr Gawley said the site benefits from good access to public transport links and is in close proximity to all local amenities and healthcare facilities.
The move was welcomed by independent Omagh councillor and GP Josephine Deehan, who said she hoped any new business on the site would enhance the local area.
"We would like to see something that will enhance Omagh," she said. "Something that could bring tourists or that would create jobs, so a hotel, restaurant or other entertainment facility.
"I hope it moves quickly to a sale and relieves the Western Trust of the huge security costs."
The site is zoned as 'white land' as per the Omagh Area Plan 1987-2002 and development is therefore subject to all necessary consents, with interested parties also advised to make enquiries into the planning potential of the site.
Irwin Potts, assistant director of strategic capital development within the Western Health and Social Care Trust, said: "This site is located in a highly sought-after area, making it an attractive proposition for various parties such as investors and developers.
"A site of this size provides limitless potential for a redevelopment project and we look forward to seeing what is in store for the future of this local landmark," he added.
The Western Health Trust said in February it hoped to sell the property, consisting of the main building and 25 smaller buildings, within a year. It explained that while interest had been shown early on by public sector organisations, this had been withdrawn.
Tyrone County Hospital was opened by the Duchess of Abercorn on November 13, 1899.
An extensive refurbishment in the late 1980s with state-of-the-art technology modernised the facilities.
The hospital led the emergency response to the Omagh Bombing in 1998 which claimed the lives of 29 people.
It dealt with 247 of the 320 people who were injured, and staff were praised for their response to the atrocity.
Despite a decade-long campaign, by 2009 all acute services had been moved to hospitals in Enniskillen and Londonderry.
The final nail in the coffin came when the Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex opened in 2017 to provide clinical care and treatment, as well as community healthcare services previously delivered at the Tyrone County Hospital.