A £12 million contract to build the new DARD headquarters in Ballykelly has been awarded with building work to begin in just three months, it has been announced.
First Minister, Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness have joined Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill to announce the award of the £12million contract.
The contract, to build the new headquarters for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs has been awarded to JH Turkington and Sons.
The project will eventually see around 600 civil service jobs move to the north west and is the first time a government department has relocated its HQ to a rural area.
Work will start immediately on the pre-construction design phase of the project, which will sustain some 155 full time construction jobs, with building work expected to start in July.
First Minister, Arlene Foster said: “Relocating Government department headquarters away from Belfast demonstrates the Executive’s commitment to rural communities in Northern Ireland. The construction of the new headquarters offers businesses, in both Ballykelly and the wider area, huge economic opportunities.
“Hundreds of civil servants will work and shop in the village which, in turn, will help create many more additional service and supply jobs as well as secure existing employment.”
The Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, said: “This project has been a catalyst for regeneration stimulating much needed job opportunities as well instilling the local community and businesses with renewed energy. The Executive is not just building a new headquarters, it is building confidence into the local economy and the local community with a significant jobs boost. I look forward to more positive developments at Ballykelly which will benefit all the people of the North West.”
Minister O’Neill said: “The appointment of this team is an important next step in the delivery of this £20 million investment. Around 600 public sector jobs will relocate to the north west bringing huge benefits to the village and wider community. The investment will also sustain 155 construction jobs, including many apprenticeships, during construction work which is due to be completed in December 2017. JH Turkington’s will now work closely with my officials to agree the design and construction plan for the new three-storey HQ. I look forward to seeing the work progress and am confident it will be ready to receive the first members of staff at the end of 2017.”
The Agriculture Minister added: “DARD has a long and proud history of delivering for the rural and farming community and I believe this new rural setting provides the perfect opportunity for us to get closer to people we serve.”
Trevor Turkington, Chief Executive from the contractors said: “We are thrilled to have won the contract and to be part of the team delivering this fantastic building in such a beautiful rural location. It is just the type of challenge we have successfully delivered for other clients so we are very excited to be part of this major relocation project for DARD.”
Planning permission for the 8.7acre site was granted last month by Causeway Coast and Glens Planning Committee. An advance party of 100 staff will be in location in the north west by the end of 2016 with around 150 more posts moving once the new building is finished. There will be a total staff complement of 600 once the project is complete.