In 2004 the Department acquired the site from the Port and Harbour Commissioners at a cost of £12 million with the benefit of certain indemnities in respect of possible land contamination.
The Department sought and received £3.2 million from the MOD towards the cost of decontamination in exchange for the formal release and legal cancellation of existing indemnities against MOD.
White Young Green environmental consultants were appointed in February 2012 to prepare a remediation strategy and then manage the contract. Subsequently, Deane Public Works were appointed to carry out capping and remediation works in 2018, and this work was completed in April 2019.
The Department received Outline Planning Permission for the Fort George Development framework in December 2015 for major mixed use development to include:
- office, employment & education uses (including research & development/call centre)
- community facilities
- cafes, bars and restaurants
- associated multi-storey and surface car parking.
The Fort George Development Framework was produced on behalf of the Department in 2014. This document is available on request by contacting the Department for Communities via email -firstname.lastname@example.org
The Catalyst Inc (formerly North West Regional Science Park) building was opened in September 2014.
In order to accommodate the 50,000 sq. ft. building, the Department agreed to lease 1.1 acres of the Fort George site on a 125 year term. Catalyst Inc has plans to build a second building on the Fort George site and an application is currently with DfI Planning.
Catalyst Inc is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that houses innovators in an entrepreneurial setting which drives the knowledge economy in Northern Ireland by nurturing innovators and entrepreneurs to aim higher and succeed faster. It invests the surplus generated from its property operations to provide the underwriting necessary for its community-led innovation ecosystem that supports over 900 start-ups, entrepreneurs and innovators each year to create and scale innovation companies in Northern Ireland.
Expression of interest exercise
In 2018 the Department appointed a consultant to conduct an expression of interest exercise. This was not a formal marketing exercise but rather an information gathering exercise to find out what interest there was on the site.
Eleven expressions of interest were received. Although the Department is still open to all options, it is likely that a fuller marketing exercise will take place at some point.
In order to inform the Department’s considerations on the best use for the site, Ove Arup and Partners Ltd (Arup) was appointed to provide strategic advice on the disposal and delivery options for Fort George.
The report includes a market analysis carried out by consultant, Lambert Smith Hampton, which assesses the level of private sector demand across a number of sectors including residential, office, retail, leisure and others.
Western Health Social Care Trust proposal
Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has agreed that Fort George can be the location of a new Health and Care Centre in Derry.
After the expression of interest exercise in 2018, the Department paused further marketing of the site in order to give the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) time, given their status as another public sector entity, to develop their proposal and business case for a Health and Care Centre on the site. At this time, it is expected that the WHSCT proposal will utilise around half the site.
The development of a Cityside Health and Care Centre is anticipated to create 250 new permanent jobs as well as centralising approximately 450 posts in a modern state of the art facility. The positions will include nursing, social work, allied health professional and administrative roles as well as the relocation of a number of GP surgeries.
The WHSCT’s Business Case for a Cityside Health and Care Centre has received DoF and DoH approval to purchase the required site on Fort George. A Heads of Agreement will be signed with WHSCT to agree in principle the disposal of part of the site.
The Department has commenced work to revise the existing Fort George masterplan. This revised masterplan will determine the location of the Health and Care Centre on the site and will also provide further clarity in relation to further potential development opportunities for the wider site in the future.