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Major new healthcare hub proposed for key Derry regeneration site

Words: Roger Milne
Healthcare / Sutterstock_296497013

Ambitious proposals to establish a new primary healthcare hub at Fort George, the former army base in Derry, have been revealed by the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT).

The trust, which provides both NHS medical and social care services across the west of Northern Ireland, has signed an agreement with the Department for Communities, which has been marketing the six-hectare site for potential redevelopment.

Fort George, on the west bank of the River Foyle, is located on one of the main arterial routes into the city centre. The site, now cleared of buildings, is regarded to be of strategic importance by both the city council and the Northern Ireland Executive.

Under an arrangement, just announced, the department will stop marketing the site, initially for 12 months, while the trust puts together a business case and confirms funding for what it is calling its Cityside Health and Care Centre.

This project is designed to bring together both the trust and local GP services, expand and enhance local health and social care provision currently delivered from widely dispersed accommodation throughout the city, and facilitate the roll-out of primary care multidisciplinary teams.

The development of a Cityside Health and Care Centre is expected to bring up to 500 whole-time equivalent permanent jobs (new and relocated). These would involve nursing, social work, allied health professional and administrative roles.

There are also proposals for a so-called Data City Health Analytic Project, which could create around 250 posts – some of which would be located at Fort George.

Paul McNaught, from the Department for Communities, said: “Fort George is a strategic regeneration site that has huge potential to create real social and economic benefits for the city.

“The department is committed to maximising its potential and work with the trust to explore this ambitious development, which not only delivers key central government priorities but is also in line with the strategic growth plan adopted by Derry City and Strabane District Council.”

The site has outline planning permission for major mixed-use development including: residential; office, employment and education uses (including research and development/call centre); community facilities; retail, cafés, bars and restaurants; associated multistorey and surface car parking; and landscaping.

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