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Site construction begins for the new PRONI Headquarters

Monday, 24 November 2008

Culture Minister Gregory Campbell and Finance Minister Nigel Dodds today marked the start of the construction of the new Public Record Office for Northern Ireland (PRONI) in Titanic Quarter, Belfast.

Going on site on the first day of work, Minister Campbell said: “The project to build a new headquarters for PRONI is a much needed investment in our cultural infrastructure. My department has committed around £30million to the new state of the art facilities which will protect Northern Ireland’s irreplaceable archives in a safe and secure environment.”

Minister Dodds commented: ''The construction industry makes an important contribution to the Northern Ireland economy and the on-going roll-out of the Investment Strategy (ISNI) will help to alleviate some of the current pressures on the industry. The new PRONI headquarters demonstrates both the Executive's commitment to the delivery of ISNI and its wider commitments to building a sustainable future under the Programme for Government.

“Sustainability has been used to formulate the overall development strategy for Titanic Quarter and the new PRONI headquarters building will be an excellent example of sustainable development in construction.''

Interest in personal history such as tracing family trees and in local history is on the increase. The location of the new building will mean much easier access for local, national and international visitors and will formally put PRONI on the map as a ‘must experience’ tourist attraction.

In his role as Architectural Design Champion, Minister Campbell continued: “It is our legal and moral duty to preserve our cultural heritage so that future generations can learn about their past. The new record office will be a building of high design and sustainable construction, a legacy for future generations to cherish and use. Titanic Quarter has its own historic story to tell and it is therefore very appropriate that many of the records held by PRONI, including some on the Titanic, will be available here.”

Notes toEditors:

The site of the new Public Record Office is in a prominent position close to the Odyssey Arena and adjacent to the Gateway building at the entrance to the Titanic Quarter. It is scheduled to open to the public in late 2010.

PRONI was established under the Public Records Act (NI) 1923 for the reception and preservation of public records. The 1923 Act also made provision for the deposit of private records in PRONI.

The competition to provide a site, design and build the new Public Record Office was advertised across Europe in 2006. In August 2007, following a European Union procurement exercise, the Titanic Quarter Limited was selected to provide a site, design and build the new public record office in the Titanic Quarter, Belfast.

By virtue of engaging in pre-application discussions with the DOE Planning Service the building’s plans received approval in less than six months. The ‘planning’ approval process included a Flood Risk assessment as required by PPS 15. The expected length of construction time for the building will be approximately 21 months.

Plans are well underway in preparation for the move of PRONI’s 54km of records which cover every aspect of life from the Minutes of Cabinet Meetings to records of a local corner shop – from the thoughts and actions of the ‘great and the good’ to the reminiscences of the working man. The oldest document is a 13th Century Papal Bull.

As the Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Mr Campbell holds the title of The Keeper of the Records for Northern Ireland and has responsibility for the Government’s policy on standards in architectural design, construction and performance: ‘Architecture and the Built Environment for Northern Ireland’.

The PRONI headquarters building is a key element of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) Investment Delivery Plan (IDP) under the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland. Details on the Investment Strategy can be obtained from:-

Strategic Investment Board Ltd
Clare House
303 Airport Road West
Belfast
BT3 9ED
Tel: 028 9081 6181
Fax: 028 9081 6181

http://www.sibni.org

Guidance on 'Equality of Opportunity and Sustainable Development in Public Sector Procurement' has been developed by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI) and the Central Procurement Directorate (CPD) of the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP). The guidance document can be viewed at www.cpdni.gov.uk

Media enquiries to Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure Press Office, tel: 028 9025 8901 or email: press.office@dcalni.gov.uk Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.