Retirement complex on old Thornhill College site gets council go-ahead
Councillors have given the green light to a major retirement complex on the former Thornhill College site on Londonderry's Culmore Road.
Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council's planning committee unanimously approved an outline planning application for the 65-bed care home and 68 semi-independent living units.
The development will retain three existing buildings at the front of the site to provide a community hub building, a community services building and a site warden building.
Project applicant TJT Limited will also remodel the former tennis courts on the site to provide a multi-use games area, and there will be allotments and landscape gardens and associated access and parking.
The council said that due to the special circumstances at the brownfield site, a legal agreement will be incorporated with this outline approval to restrict the occupancy of the dwellings/apartments to people aged 55 and over to ensure it does not become a housing development in the countryside.
Welcoming the decision, Derry and Strabane mayor John Boyle said that it would be good to see the site returned to working use.
"The Thornhill site is one of historical significance in our city and has been disused since the school's relocation in 2003, so I welcome the fact that it can be repopulated and regenerated through the approval of this outline planning application," he said.
"I would like to commend the planning officers for their attention to detail in bringing a project of this scale to this point and ensuring that the character of the original buildings will be protected and maintained.
"The site is on an area of high scenic value and I look forward to seeing it restored to its former glory in the coming years."
Chair of the planning committee, councillor Warren Robinson, said the proposed development would help address the growing demand for tailored accommodation for older people in the Derry area.
"This project is positive news and will go some way towards meeting the increasing need for this type of specialised accommodation, coupled with support services for the elderly in the council area," he said.
"It will allow them to maintain their independence and avail of assistance and communal facilities if required.
"It will also bring economic benefits to the area, both initially through the employment and spending of over 300 construction related workers on the site, but also in the employment of the care and support staff when the project is finally completed."