Up to 1,000 jobs could be created in Derry after the Department for Infrastructure gave its consent for a major new office development on the site of the former Ebrington Barracks.
The project, which will be developed by Draperstown firm Heron Bros, comprises two major buildings and a two-level 214 space underground car park.
A report produced by the Department for Infrastructure's planning division (DfI Planning) envisages that when completed, the two office buildings of 30,000 sq ft and 50,000 sq ft will have the potential to house between 750 and 1,000 jobs.
Heron Bros has said it expects the project to involve a minimum of 120 construction jobs.
It's understood that a high-profile IT or financial services firm is being targeted to become the anchor tenant.
Economic analysis produced by DfI Planning suggested that, based on 740 occupants with an average salary of £32,000, the building could bring in £23.7m each year in wages for the city.
"The overall contribution of the proposal in economic terms to the city and wider region is a material planning consideration," said the report.
"Information submitted by the applicant states that it is clearly in the public interest that this project proceeds, both for the Ebrington site and the wider North West." The office accommodation has been described as of international standard, designed to support the growth of high quality technology and knowledge-based businesses in the city.
"The proposal also has the potential to attract further private sector investment to the site and the city at a time when there is limited investment in office accommodation by the private sector in Derry/Londonderry."
Addressing regional economic imbalances remains a key aim of the project, with the Executive Office backing it with £3.5m in grant aid.
In the report giving planning approval to the project, planning officials at DfI said: "The grade A office accommodation proposal is an important driver in developing the Ebrington site and has the potential to act as a catalyst in the wider economic regeneration of the city and region, and enhance the city's ability to create jobs with higher paying salaries." They concluded: "The economic benefits of the proposal to Ebrington and the wider city and region weigh significantly in favour of the proposal."
In a report produced in support of its application, Heron Bros identified "failures" in the provision of existing suitable office space in Derry, limiting its potential to attract foreign direct investment.
"There is a gap in the provision of grade A office space and this proposal is ideally located to capitalise upon this shortfall and to address the failures that currently exist within the Londonderry office market," it said.
"This development represents a massive opportunity to create a grade A office building, which is required in order to attract foreign direct investment into a region which is suffering from record levels of unemployment."