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New state-of-the-art £3m factory could create 20 jobs at former primary school

Old Keady Primary School

A new state-of-the-art engineering factory in Keady could create up to 20 new jobs, it has been revealed.

And the development – understood to represent an investment of more than £3 million – would ensure the jobs of current staff remain in the Co Armagh town.

Just months after a pre-application consultation in Keady, and SFM Engineering has now formally applied for approval for a new development.

The business – which already employs 49 workers – is hoping to relocate to a new site.

The intention is to demolish the former Keady Primary School and build a new factory.

In March, the company had set its sights on constructing a new purpose-built factory on the Crossmore Road.

The business – a metal fabrication sub-contractor to the manufacturing industry – is currently located on the Tassagh Road.

But the site has restricted expansion plans and there were fears at one stage that SFM Engineering may have to relocate to accommodate growth potential.

The business hopes to be able to carry out research and development and explore possible expansion into others markets.

And now a formal bid has been made for the new development on the site of the old Keady Primary, which closed in 2012.

The proposed development would see the building of a metal fabrication workshop and office, along with associated parking and yard area. It would also include a service area and parking provision for staff, visitors and heavy goods vehicles.

The factory – stretching to almost 4,500 sq metres – would be used for the design, construction and modification of engineering components.

The building will also include an ancillary office block with amenity facilities for staff, drawing rooms, reception area and office space.

According to a planning statement, the new factory would “create and sustain” between 15 and 20 new jobs.

Overall, it states, the project “represents a significant investment in the local economy in Keady”.

The pre-consultation saw five people attend and all were positive about the job creation prospects.

The only concerns emerging along the way had been in relation to traffic.

But the planning statement points out: “The loading and unloading of materials will take place within the site area.

“Adequate provision has been made to allow HGV vehicles to leave the public road, enter the site, and safely manoeuvre, thereby reducing potential congestion along the Crossmore Road.”

A comprehensive landscape proposal has also been prepared to allow the development to successfully integrate into existing surroundings.

Existing planting will be retained and incorporated within the landscaping scheme where practicable,” adds the submission.

“The careful selection of vegetation will enhance the environmental and control views into the site.”

Planners have been told that the new factory would be hugely beneficial to the town of Keady and surrounding area.

The statement adds: “This proposal represents an ideal opportunity to create new high-value-added employment opportunities on an area of redundant lands.

“The development will greatly assist the growth and success of an established local business.”

The proposals are due to be public advertised this month and a decision would be expected later in the year.

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