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21/09/2021

Planning committee approve significant Retirement Complex on former Thornhill College site

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Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Planning Committee have unanimously approved an outline planning application for the development of a Retirement Complex at the site of the former Thornhill College site on Culmore Road. The application to provide a Retirement Village will include a 65 bed care facility, 48 retirement apartments and 20 Independent living units. The proposal will incorporate the retention of existing buildings at the site frontage to provide a community hub building and a community services building and site warden building. Demolition and redevelopment of the remaining buildings will be carried out to provide a care home, retirement apartments and independent living units within the existing built footprint. The former school tennis courts will be remodelled to provide a multi-use games area and allotments as will the former tarmacked hardstanding to provide formal landscape gardens with a site path network. There will be new access, parking, drainage and landscape enhancement works and all relevant neighbours have been notified on the application. Due to the special circumstances at the brownfield site, officers have made a legal planning agreement to be incorporated with this outline approval to restrict the occupancy of the dwellings/apartments to a retirement age of over 55+ to ensure it does not become a housing development in the countryside. The development will retain three existing buildings at the front of the site to provide a Community Hub Building, Community Services Building and Site Warden Building and see the demolition and redevelopment of the remaining buildings to provide a 65 bed care home and 68 semi-independent living units. Project applicant TJT Limited will also remodel the former tennis courts on the site to provide a multi-use games area and allotments and remodel other parts of the site to incorporate formal landscape gardens and associated access, parking, drainage and landscape enhancement works. Welcoming the decision, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle, welcomed that fact that the well known site will return 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 need for tailored accommodation for the elderly in the City and District. “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, allowing 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 completed.” Pictured above: An artist's impression of what the retirement village at the former Thornhill College site will look like.

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