Over a thousand public sector workers have declared their interest in relocating to the new Rivers Agency Headquarters to be built on Loughry College Campus by March 2016.
The news comes just a week after Cookstown District Council ratified Planning’s decision to allow the demolition of an already existing building to make way for a new office and parking for the agency.
The relocation of the government department, along with around 80 jobs, has been hailed for moving some public sector jobs out of Belfast.
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Michelle O’Neill said: “The Rivers Agency move will see around 80 posts, currently based at Hydebank in Greater Belfast, move to new accommodation on the Loughry Campus by March 2016.
“There were 1,037 expressions of interest from civil servants in relocating to the new Rivers Agency building in Cookstown.
“The numbers of workers who want to move clearly shows support for my policy.
“I’m committed to delivering on decentralisation by moving Rivers Agency to Cookstown, Fisheries Division to south Down, Forest Service to Fermanagh and Department HQ to Ballykelly,” Minister O’Neill added.
“We are leading the way on addressing the redistribution of public sector jobs across the north, which will help share the wealth across the economy and contribute to better-balanced economic growth.”
Cookstown District Council’s chair, Wilbert Buchanan said: “This is an excellent boost for Cookstown district in terms of bringing public sector jobs and investment to the area. This move will strategically position the agency, providing it with a central location and facilitate clustering with an existing departmental facility.”
Mid Ulster MP Francie Molloy has also welcomed the numbers willing to move.
He said: “Rivers Agency personnel, and other civil servants who want to work there, were offered the opportunity to show their interest [in relocating]. The next stage is staffing it - some of the staff might want to move, so the opportunity was given to others.”