Since 1985 the Workspace Group has been an economic focal point of the community it serves in Draperstown. It is a social enterprise with services ranging from training and employability to recruitment, energy efficiency, childcare, and leisure; and it is an enterprise agency, providing free support to start-up businesses as well as mentoring to aspiring social entrepreneurs. With several local assets in its portfolio, Workspace is a model of community ownership.
One of these assets was acquired back in the 1990s when Workspace redeveloped what was once the residence of the local hanging judge but subsequently became the Rural College. The college was successfully run as a social enterprise for many years, but after it went into administration in 2012 Workspace was unable to identify alternative tenants. The management of this building is no longer viable, and Workspace is now on the lookout for potential suitors to take over the lease.
The Derrynoid Centre, as it is known, has been vacant for eight years now and it is no longer feasible for Workspace to pay rates and maintenance costs for the property. The site has massive potential however: it comprises a 2.15-acre site, set in 250 acres of secluded forest woodland with one main building and four accommodation blocks. The main building houses a multi-media lecture centre (110 capacity), six training rooms, five offices and a restaurant area. The accommodation blocks contain a total of 40 ensuite bedrooms. It also features a separate building previously used as a leisure suite, complete with changing rooms.
Whilst the complex was previously used as a college, its potential usages could include a healthcare facility, an outdoor activity centre, or office and conferencing space. As such, it represents a major rural regeneration opportunity.
Workspace Chief Executive, Georgina Grieve, explains: “Since the closure of the college, we have tried to find a suitable tenant for the site. In recent years, we had plans to develop the site as a community hub in collaboration with a number of partner organisations. However, for various reasons this hasn’t been able to proceed and we are now resigned to the fact that it won’t happen at Derrynoid.”
Workspace is keen to see the asset brought back into productive use and Georgina notes, “Derrynoid is a great facility; we are happy to listen to all reasonable propositions for the college site and facilitate the handing over of the lease to a new tenant, so long as this has DAERA and Forest Service approval.”
If you are interested in finding out more about this opportunity, contact Shauna Kehoe at email@example.com or call 028 7962 8113.