Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs will have a new headquarters, with the government announcing on March 30 that a contract to build the facility in Ballykelly, Northern Ireland.

The contract, valued at GBP12 million (US$17.3 million) has been awarded to the firm JH Turkington and Sons. The project will eventually see 600 civil service jobs move to the northwest and is the first time a government department has relocated its headquarters to a rural area.

“I believe this new rural setting provides the perfect opportunity for us to get closer to the people we serve,” said Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill.

Pre-construction design work on the new facility is to begin immediately, while construction work is expected to start in July. O’Neill stated that staff members of the agriculture agency will be able to work from the new headquarters by the end of 2017.

“We are thrilled to have won the contract and to be part of the team delivering this fantastic building in such a beautiful rural location. It is just the type of challenge we have successfully delivered for other clients, so we are very excited to be part of this major relocation project,” said Trevor Turkington, CEO of Turkington and Sons.