Positive Indicators In Derry Property Market
10 May 2011Since I last wrote about Londonderry and the north-west region, a number of positive developments has occurred, which should help to bolster the region’s economic and commercial vitality. Perhaps the most significant of these events was the announcement awarding Londonderry the title of UK City of Culture for 2013, an accolade presenting the city with an opportunity not merely to shine internationally, but to prosper economically and socially. Observers predict that the UK City of Culture award could generate additional revenues of up to £100 million for Derry, attract 500,000 extra visitors and create hundreds of new jobs through inward investment and growth within the local SME sector.
Another positive step forward for the city and indeed local co-ordinating economic and social regeneration body, Ilex, has been the completion of Hibernia Exchange Centre, a £28m initiative located at Fort George, which provides high speed, low cost, point-to-point connectivity for companies. The Hibernia Exchange Centre marks the fruition of the Project Kelvin transatlantic submarine cable project, which now connects Northern Ireland directly to North America and Europe reinforcing Derry and the northwest’s position as a major digital global hub.
Ilex continues to manage the redevelopment of Fort George on the Foyle’s west bank and Ebrington, the 26-acre former military base situated on the east bank of the river. Further afield, Shackleton Barracks in Ballykelly has recently come to the market. The total site extends to 682 acres, includes 900,000 sqft of buildings, and represents an excellent development opportunity.
On the retail property front, an increasingly strong euro will help to benefit the region through an expected rise in cross-border trade, particularly towns such as Strabane. Osborne King has recently put Strabane Retail Park under offer to an overseas investor, once again showing confidence in the region. The park has notable occupiers including Argos and New Look.
Over in Derry, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco have submitted applications for new stores on the Waterside although interestingly two applications for stores on the cityside have been refused planning permission.
The office market is still relatively quiet in keeping with other regions across Northern Ireland. Construction work has started on a new office block situated on a DSD-owned site at Clondermot on the Waterside, which will deliver 15,000 sq ft of high-quality office and community facilities for Derry City Council Groundwork and the Waterside Neighbourhood Partnership upon completion.
As the city begins its countdown to 2013, we can only hope that the concerted efforts of all interested parties will succeed in delivering cultural, economic and social dividends that will last far beyond Derry’s year in the spotlight as a UK City of Culture.