Bicycle shop, café & brewery will be among pioneering permanent businesses at barracks

A bicycle workshop, café and a microbrewery will be up and running as the first permanent businesses in Ebrington Square this summer with officials suggesting the pioneering enterprises will pave the way for further development soon thereafter.

Dr Mark Browne, a senior official at the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM), said the former Army barracks will begin to look a lot busier over the next few months.

As well as the aforementioned developments there currently 60 formal expressions of interest for the potential establishment of businesses on the site.

OFMDFM is considering a business case for a business growth hub at the prime city centre site, which would support 15 to 16 SMEs.

Tenants, however, will be welcomed from across the private, public, voluntary and community sectors.

Last week briefing MLAs about progress made against OFMDFM’s Programme for Government commitments in relation to the One Plan and Ebrington, Dr Browne confirmed the Walled City Brewery and a combined bicycle workshop and café will be pioneers in terms of businesses on site.

He said: “The Department continues to work with Ilex to ensure that momentum is maintained. On the site, the refurbishment of building 70 was recently completed, and it will open soon as a microbrewery.

“In addition, a combined cafe and bicycle workshop will open in summer 2015 on the site. I do not think those two should be combined. Those ventures will be the first new businesses operating permanently on the site and will hopefully pave the way for further enterprise.

“DOE has leased building 71 and set up a regional office with the Minister and the chief planner.”

Dr Browne said the capital spend by Ilex on the development of Ebrington in 2013/14 was £6.5m and in 2014/15 the Londonderry regeneration company had a budget of £3.1m.

He also pointed to the recent completion of the Ebrington Development Framework, which Ilex and OFMDFM hopes will yield an additional 1,800 jobs and £42m in additional business for the city.

“The Ebrington development framework has also been completed. It is envisaged that, in the longer term, that will ultimately support an additional 1,800 jobs in the city and generate an additional gross value added of £42 million,” Dr Browne said.

“There has been extensive consultation on the framework with local stakeholders to try to ensure that it meets the needs of the surrounding community. “The framework was submitted for planning approval in December 2014, and, subject to normal planning approval processes, we anticipate approval in June.” he added.

MLAs were also advised of the ongoing efforts to populate the vast Ebrington site with various businesses, services and facilities.

“Ilex is also engaging with the private, public, community and voluntary sectors to acquire tenants for Ebrington. There are 60 formal expressions of interest to establish potential businesses on the site.

“The creative industries hub on the site will open shortly, and the Department is considering the business case for a business growth hub, which would support 15 to 16 small to medium-sized enterprises on the site,” Dr Browne said.