A new Transport Service and Driver Rest Facility hub is being planned on a site adjacent to the new Drumahoe Roundabout on the A6 between Londonderry/Derry to Dungiven road.
The RHA’s NI Policy Manager John Martin recently met up with Gordon Chambers, Director of W&J Chambers Ltd, Drumahoe, and their agent David Dalzell, Chartered Landscape Architect and Chartered Town Planner, to discuss the proposed development.
“The RHA have supported the planning application for this facility given we represent both road freight and coach operators within the UK and Ireland and its seen as critical as it will improve road safety, provides much needed driver welfare and rest facilities and enhances the visitor experience when travelling to the North West region,” says John.
The A6 between Londonderry/Derry and Dungiven is an important part of the North Western transport corridor connecting Belfast and the North West. This route is of strategic economic importance, providing an essential road link between the Belfast and the North West and enhancing visitor experiences and business access to the region which will result in an overall economic boast for the region.
“Within Northern Ireland this type of facility has been lacking where drivers of commercial goods vehicles and coaches have not had adequate facilities to rest, consume their food or freshen up during their journeys,” adds John.
“The development of the proposed hub at Drumahoe will address those issues thus enhancing road safety. It will also ensure commercial drivers have access to state-of-the-art facilities including driver breakout and rest areas, shower and wash facilities and communication hubs which will result in the sector being more attractive for people looking at a career as a commercial driver.
“This is something the RHA have long campaigned for over the past number of years and is currently not provided in this region and has been brought more into focus due to the covid-19 pandemic where driver welfare and rest facilities were closed or access was denied.”
He says the Department for Infrastructure and the current Minister Nichola Mallon have to be commended on their commitment for seeing the A6 road scheme between Londonderry/Derry and Dungiven through to near competition. Anyone who has travelled on this route over recent months will undoubtedly be impressed by the scheme and it will enhance access to the North West.
The A6 is the main route between Northern Ireland’s two main cities and is utilised by an estimated 15,000 vehicles per day and the proposed facility will complement the new road network as the existing facilities fall short of what’s necessary in this modern era.
The proposed new facility is designed to cater for all road users including private cars, goods vehicles and coaches. In particular, given the significant increase in Coach tourism in the North West, it also caters for the needs of coach passengers.
This will be the only facility of its kind for commercial drivers in the north-west whereby HGV drivers crossing from County Donegal or leaving Foyle Port will look to make a stop having navigated the busy and congested roads around the City before embarking upon the more free-flowing traffic along the A6 as they will seek to park-up and refresh themselves before making for Belfast, Dublin or farther afield.
This represents a significant investment of circa £7.2million in the local area, with 80 construction jobs and 50 jobs when operational with an anticipated rates revenue to Derry City and Strabane District Council in the region of £110,000 per annum.
It’s proposed the facility will have provision for:
-Fuel for private vehicles, Heavy Goods Vehicles and Coaches/Buses.
-Refuelling/recharging facilities for low-emission vehicles.
-Car wash, air and water.
-Free parking up to 2 hours (for all vehicles including cars, motorhomes, coaches and lorries).
-Hot drinks and hot food will be available from 8am to 8pm for consumption on the premises with internal seating.
-Ancillary retail facilities selling convenience items for travellers.
-Accessible toilets and baby-changing facilities. Toilet and hand-washing facilities will be free (with no need to make a purchase) unlike “customer-only toilets” found in some filling stations.
-Shower and washing facilities can be provided for HGV drivers, including secure lockers in the shower/washing area.
-Tourist Information Point.
-ATM, and Access to a cash operated telephone.
-Amenity/picnic area and equipped children’s play area.
-Motorhome Service Point.
-Associated access and landscaping.
Parking and circulation space will be provided for coaches, caravans and motorhome and HGVs in dedicated areas to the required specification. The southern part of the site will be reserved for HGV parking and refuelling, and a gas tank compound, and there will be rest areas for Coach and HGV drivers which are currently lacking in the north-west region.
It is envisaged that the facility will be open 24-hours (facilities which are also currently lacking in this area). As a minimum it will be open 12 hours per day between 8am and 8pm every day except Christmas day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
The planning application was up for decision with the planners in Derry and Strabane District Council on the 9thJune 2021 but the matter was deferred for 6 months.