07 February 2023
The Riverine Community Park is a joint project developed by Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council to develop a 30-acre dedicated cross-border and cross-community shared space. The project will include a park of regional significance, which will be located along the banks of the River Foyle on both sides, comprising of a number of key elements including outdoor events space, managed parkland, enhanced river access, environmental area, an adventure play area and community building. This shared space will be linked by a pedestrian and cycle bridge which will span across the river, representing a physical and symbolic link in connecting the communities of Strabane, Lifford and their rural hinterlands.
The project is funded through the PEACE IV Programme through the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). In line with the overall PEACE IV Programme’s Shared Spaces objectives, the project is supported by a dedicated community animation programme, designed to promote sustained and meaningful cross-border and cross-community contact and relations through a range of programmed activities targeting various groups. A Riverine Community Forum has also been established to ensure community engagement throughout the design of the project and the delivery of the animation programmes.
Officials from both Councils met with representatives from the Riverine Community Forum at their monthly meeting to provide an update on the project and to give an overview of the challenges faced by both Council’s in recent months. Both Councils are working very closely with SEUPB to determine what elements of the project can now be delivered if any before the end of the programme date of 31st December 2023
At the present time key statutory approvals remain outstanding. While it is possible that some of the statutory approvals will be resolved in time to facilitate construction of various project elements within the PEACE IV funding envelope it is highly unlikely that all will be resolved in time.
This represents a significant risk to the project which lies outside of the direct control of both Councils and which is too great for the Councils or the PEACE IV Programme to bear.
Following detailed engagement between Donegal County Council, Derry City and Strabane District Council and the Special EU Programmes Body it has been concluded that the project is no longer viable for completion within the timeframe remaining for the PEACE IV Programme (end December 2023). This is a very disappointing outcome for all concerned, not least the communities that would have benefited from the project.
Both Councils would like to see as much work as possible continue in 2023 within the confines of the PEACE IV Programme and are actively engaging with SEUPB to explore what is possible in this regard