Plans by Almac to build a major two-storey self-catering hub and coffee dock for use by its hundreds of workers have been given the go-ahead.
The development is part of huge ongoing multi-million pound investments by the County Armagh-based pharmaceutical giant.
Armagh I first revealed plans for the new staff welfare facilities last July.
And the proposals have now been signed off on by planners at Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.
A number of conditions have been laid down in granting consent.
One dictates, within three months of approval being given, that “all hard and soft landscape works shall be carried out in accordance with the approved details and the appropriate British Standard or other recognised Codes of Practise and shall be retained thereafter”.
The proposals were drawn up under the name of the ‘Northside Catering Hub’.
The two-storey development will be built on existing car parking, on “lands within the Almac Complex adjacent to and east of Building 10, adjacent to and south of Building 1A, Seagoe Industrial Estate, Portadown”.
It will stretch to over 17,000 sq ft in terms of floorspace, with the majority of this being for ‘seating and eating’. It includes a coffee dock too, which will also have covered seating.
The new staff facility – along with a second planned hub – would facilitate the whole campus, seating almost 1,000 at any one time.
According to the professional planners’ report, the application sites consist of an area of landscaping and footpath around the perimeter of the adjacent building No.9, within the Almac Complex, Seagoe. The site is a “relatively flat area with a one metre hedgerow separating the site from a footpath”.
It will provide a single catering base when built.
The report adds: “The proposed catering facility is a rationalisation of existing facilities within the great Almac complex, which has individual catering areas within numerous buildings.
“This proposal is to centralise this and provide a large facililty to serve the overall complex.
“There will be no increase in the number of staff working at this facility and no access to the catering unit other than by those already using the Almac complex.”
In relation to neighbouring properties and the potential for any impact this has been considered not to be an issue..
As the planners state: “In respect of the impact on the wider amenity concerns officers note there are no residential properties in the vicinity and so there is no concern in respect of adverse impact on residential amenity in any form.
“There is the potential for impact on the amenity of those occupying the neighbouring offices and factories and consultation was carried out with Environmental Health to determine if there were any amenity concerns from the proposal.
“In response, Environmental Health advised they had no concerns and in consideration of the proposal officers agree they foresee no concern in respect of impact on amenity by the operation of the proposed facility.”
The now-approved proposals also cover associated site works to include alterations to existing landscaping and associated car parking.