Derry City and Strabane District Council is embarking on a public engagement process to gauge views on its pilot streetscape proposals aimed at providing help and support to businesses in the town centres of Derry and Strabane as part of its wider COVID recovery plans.
The engagement will relate to the Department for Communities funded Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme which was introduced to support towns and city centres in their recovery and which is currently being implemented by Council. To date the Council has seen investment in new lighting in both Derry and Strabane, improvement works and new seating at The Tinnies in Strabane and the Peace Park in Derry’s Foyle Street.
The engagement will take the form of an online Public Realm Survey that will encourage the public to have their say on the draft proposals.
The survey will be available for two-week period commencing from 11 February to Friday 26 February. It will invite the public to give their views on what temporary interventions would assist in encouraging people back into the city and town centre to shop and to socialise. The survey will outline some of the temporary proposals being put forward to create a welcoming environment for pedestrians and greater social distancing opportunities that will help allow hospitality and other businesses to trade in Derry and Strabane town centre locations, as we prepare to recover from the pandemic.
The Covid Recovery and Revitalisation Street Life and Vibrant Places document was unveiled by Council last year and outlined a number of suggested physical recovery measures to create greater ease of movement for pedestrians and facilitate greater social distancing. It included a range of temporary proposals such as the installation of additional street furniture and temporary traffic restrictions in Derry City and Strabane town centres to create a more welcoming environment for pedestrians.
By taking part in the survey the public can have their say on the proposals and give their feedback on what steps Council can take to facilitate businesses to reopen and encourage the public back into the town centres to socialise and shop in a safe environment.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Brian Tierney welcoming the survey said it was important the public were given an opportunity to view the plans and give feedback on the proposals.
He praised the draft proposals being put forward by Council highlighting that they are pilot and temporary interventions that are reversible should circumstances change. He said it was important that every effort to bring forward these exciting plans aimed at redesigning urban spaces and thoroughfares in our towns and city centres were explored.
"The plans are being brought forward as part of the wider Covid-19 Recovery strategy with the priority being to assist businesses by creating more attractive space, additional outdoor seating areas, better public realm design, enhanced city dressing and other improvements that will help restore customer confidence and drive footfall in these areas. The survey is an excellent way of communicating with the wider public and will complement the work we are already doing by engaging directly with the business community to identify their needs as they prepare to reopen. Council has a very important role to play in working with Government and businesses to rebuild city and town centre trade and restore confidence in our retail and hospitality businesses.”
Mayor Tierney acknowledged the Department for Communities funding secured to assist with the installation of street furniture including seating, planting and lighting and the enhancement of existing public spaces such as Waterloo Place, Ebrington and Queens Quay. He also made reference to the proposed designs for the Walled City and emphasis on how COVID has led to the Council looking at unique ways at creating innovative and temporary measures to create more attractive and usable public spaces for pedestrians and local businesses.
Minister for Communities Deirdre Hargey said: “These exciting new proposals will lay the foundations for businesses in the North West to prepare to re-open. I welcome the reimaging of the centres of Derry and Strabane and the effort made to improve public spaces to make them safe and welcoming for the public. I would encourage the local community to have their say on the plans and am delighted that my Department has been able to play a part in this initiative.”