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Virtual launch event for iconic Waterside Shared Village Project

12 May 2021

Community and political leaders came together online today for a special virtual event, officially launching the Waterside Shared Village project, an ambitious €8m, EU funded community development, which will become an iconic shared space for the Waterside area. 

The project is supported by the European Union's PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), and led by Derry City & Strabane District Council, working in partnership with the Irish Street Youth & Community Association and Hillcrest Community Trust. Match-funding has been provided by the Department for Communities, Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development, Ireland.  

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Brian Tierney, was joined online for a special Zoom webinar, by the Minister of the Department for Communities NI, Deirdre Hargey, and Minister of State for the Department of Rural and Community Development Ireland, Joe O'Brien. They praised the commitment of the project partners in progressing work to this stage, in particular, the local organisations on both sides of the community who shared the vision for a transformative shared space for the area. 

The Waterside Shared Village (WSV) will include a state-of-the-art hub building and sports complex located in the interface area between Irish Street and Top of the Hill. The facility aims to build trust and reconciliation between the two communities by creating a safe place for residents to engage in activities together. 

The centre will also include a hall that can be transformed into four meeting or training rooms, a community kitchen, office space and a suite of sports changing rooms. The area around the community hub will comprise a 3G and grass pitch, a cricket training area and tennis courts. Work is expected to commence on site in early summer with a completion date of approximately June 2022. 

Speaking after the launch, Mayor Tierney said that it was a fantastic day for the Waterside area, stating: "This project is hugely significant for our Council and its partners and will be transformational for all communities in the Waterside, bringing them together to deliver a shared programme of education, sports, health and well-being and cultural activities. 

"It will also encourage communities to work in partnership to create safe and shared spaces where they can interact, building trust and reconciliation through meaningful and rewarding experiences and joint community initiatives. I am delighted that we have reached this important milestone in the project and look forward to seeing the work commence on the ground in the coming weeks.

Department for Communities NI Minister, Deirdre Hargey, said: "I want to congratulate Derry City and Strabane District Council and their project partners, Irish Street Youth & Community Association and Hillcrest Community Trust, in championing and progressing this project. My Department's purpose is to build inclusive communities and we do that by supporting people to shape the places in which they live, work and interact with each other.

"This project is an exemplar of what can be achieved, with neighbouring communities working together to transform a former disused school site on an interface, into a new shared space for everyone in this area. The contribution that my Department has made to the Waterside Shared Village project, through the provision of match funding and by transferring the land to develop the project, demonstrates our continued commitment to ensure the needs of communities, as expressed by the communities themselves, are met." 

Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development Ireland, Joe O'Brien TD, said: "I am delighted to see the launch of the Waterside Shared Village project, for which over €8m in funding was approved under the EU PEACE IV Programme. 

"This project will have a transformative effect on the Waterside area, transforming the derelict site of the former Clondermot High School into a state-of-the-art new community hub and sports facility.  We all know that communities that come together and participate in educational, sport and recreational activities develop strong social bonds and build relationships that lead to happier, safer and stronger communities. This is exactly what this project sets out to achieve.

"I want to congratulate Derry City & Strabane District Council and their project partners, the Irish Street Youth and Community Association and Hillcrest Community Trust for all their hard work and dedication in bringing the project to this point, it is a credit to all involved. My Department is looking forward to working with all parties to ensure the successful delivery of this crucial project." 

Commenting on the significance of the project, Gina McIntyre, Chief Executive of the SEUPB, said: "As a result of our past history, many sections of our society still live highly segregated lives. They feel safer learning, working and socialising only with people from a similar background. This can lead to increased tensions, mistrust and prejudice and prevent communities and individuals from moving forward.

"The EU PEACE IV funded Waterside Shared Village will create a safe, neutral space on an interface area that will help to positively transform the lives of many local residents. It will create a vibrant new community hub and state-of-the-art sports facility that can be used safely by all. I would like to congratulate everyone who has been involved in the delivery of the project to date and look forward to the day when it is completed and we can all celebrate safely together." 

Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council, John Kelpie, said community facility and shared space provision remained a key element of the Council's ongoing commitments set out in its Strategic Growth Plan. He said Council was committed to providing safe, accessible and inclusive spaces across the Council area that encourage communities to interact and develop. 

"This is a major regeneration project for the Council area and one which will have a significant positive impact on the communities in the Waterside. It's a perfect example of how community organisations can work alongside Council and funders to bring forward a proposal that will transform this former school site into an iconic shared space for the entire community to avail of and enjoy." 

 Community Workers, Niree McMorris, Irish Street Community & Youth Association and Geraldine Doherty, Hillcrest Trust, said they were delighted that the Waterside Shared Village will not only change the physical landscape of the area, but will improve the life chances of the residents there. In a joint statement they said: "The project will help promote reconciliation by bringing people from all backgrounds together and allowing them to engage and interact with each other in a safe shared space.

"It will also encourage people to build new relationships and renew old friendships through joint educational, sport and recreational programmes as well as being a positive example of the shared future which the EU Peace IV Programme aims to support." 

For more info on the project visit -  http://derrystrabaneleisure.com/watersidesharedvillage/