Construction company to create 200 jobs

Construction company Graham is to create 200 jobs in Co Down after being given the go-ahead for a new £10m (€12.5m) eco-friendly HQ which it plans as a showcase for potential clients.

Construction company Graham is to create 200 jobs in Co Down after being given the go-ahead for a new £10m (€12.5m) eco-friendly HQ which it plans as a showcase for potential clients.

The new headquarters for the Dromore company will see it move a short distance to a base just off the A1 beside Hillsborough.

The building will allow the company to increase its workforce to 1,200 over the next two years.

At the weekend, the construction company was named as one of three firms from the North in the Sunday Times UK top 100 'fastest profit makers'.

The privately owned family company established in 1878, has seen profits grow by an average of 58% in each of the last three years - topping out at £5.7m (€7.1m) last year.

The eco-friendly HQ building will use a biomass boiler and collect rainwater and Graham hope it will receive the highest award level for sustainable buildings - the "excellent" BREEM rating.

Executive chairman Michael Graham said: "It is intended to become a 'flagship' building demonstrating to clients that we practice what we preach.

"It involves details such as orientating the building to minimise heat gain from the sun to allow the use of natural ventilation, therefore cutting down on energy costs.

"Sustainable building materials, collecting rainwater and use of appropriate landscaping will all be used to make the building sustainable and energy efficient."

The company managed to get planning approval for the building fast-tracked through the system in just six months, aided by the Planning Service's new Strategic Project's Unit [SPU].

Mr Graham said: "This planning approval allows us to forge ahead with the construction of our new HQ on schedule. It is no secret that we have outgrown our historic HQ base in Dromore and we had feared the new HQ planning application would take longer to process and thus impact upon our business development plans.

"We have been impressed by the attitude and approach of the SPU to the planning application and also want to thank Jeffrey Donaldson and Lisburn City Council for their support."

Mr Donaldson, the Lagan Valley MP, said the fast-tracking was a good example of how government and business could work together for the benefit of everyone.

"Graham have expanded considerably in recent years, having completed various high profile projects in Scotland, England and the Republic of Ireland.

"The new headquarters will allow the company to expand further creating 200 jobs over the next two years which is terrific news.

"Significant time and resources have been invested into the design of the new building to make sure it incorporates key environmental features and this of course is positive."

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