Work set to begin on site of Waterside Shared Village Project
16 November 2020
Work is set to commence on a much anticipated project to transform the derelict site of the former Clondermot High School in the Waterside into a state of the art new community hub and sports facility.
The Waterside Shared Village project is being led by Derry City and Strabane District Council supported by the European Union's PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Council, along with its community partners at Irish Street Youth & Community Association and Hillcrest Community Trust, have been awarded €8,057,292.72 to develop the Waterside Shared Village, which will become an iconic and transformative shared space in the interface area between Irish Street and Top of the Hill.
The project will include a state of the art community building and sports complex and aims to build trust and reconciliation between the two communities by creating a safe place for residents to come together to engage in activities. The facility will offer extensive new shared space including 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.
The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Brian Tierney, today welcomed news that work is about to commence in the area, stressing that the development will have a major impact on the positive development of the Irish Street and Top of the Hill areas.
"The Waterside Shared Village project is of major significance in terms of community development in the Waterside area. It will provide a safe, accessible shared space which will enhance greater levels of cross community contact, promoting inclusion through interaction with people from different religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
"I am delighted to see work progressing well on this project, and I look forward to seeing construction now begin on the ground in the coming days. I want to thank all those who have worked so hard to bring the plans to this point."
Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.
Minister for Communities, Carál Ní Chuilín, said: "My Department is pleased to have provided the match-funding which will help to transform a vacant derelict site into a vibrant shared facility. Our purpose in the Department is to help everyone within our communities to live positive, fulfilled lives through providing opportunities to work, enjoy themselves and get involved.
"We are all working together for a fairer and inclusive society which will improve lives and deliver generational change and this project developed and managed on a cross- community basis for the whole community, exemplifies what can be achieved through partnership and vision. It builds upon the collaboration and commitment of both the Irish Street Youth & Community Association and Hillcrest Community Trust to work together for a shared future for all."
Minister of State Joe O'Brien, at the Department of Rural and Community Development, said: "I want to congratulate Derry City and Strabane District Council and all the project partners on the commencement of works on the Waterside Shared Village Project, which will have a transformative effect on the area, delivering a modern and neutral community hub and sports facility. Community hubs and sports facilities have an important role to play in supporting local communities and this is even more evident during these extremely challenging times we now find ourselves in as a result of Covid-19.
"This project will deliver a wide range of programmes for all ages, which will ensure that cross-community engagements continue into the future and will encourage closer relationships between communities from different backgrounds within the local area. I am delighted that my Department is an Accountable Department for this funding and we will work with all parties to ensure the delivery of this essential €8m EU funded project."
Outlining the importance of the project, Gina McIntyre Chief Executive of the SEUPB said: "Significant developments have been made in this region maintaining a peaceful society, however there remain divisions within and between different communities, which serve only to keep us apart and create mistrust.
"This project is one of a number of 'shared space' initiatives that are being funded by the European Union across Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland. Each one has been designed to encourage greater levels of cross-community contact in order to create a society which is comfortable and secure in its own identities and accepting of other cultures, traditions and backgrounds.
"I am delighted to see that, even under the current difficult environment we all find ourselves in, work on this project is starting safely and is on track for completion in the very near future. Well done to all who have helped get it to this exciting stage."
Welcoming the development, Director of Health and Communities with Council, Karen McFarland, explained that the project would enable the delivery of a wide range of programmes aimed at enhancing positive relations between two interface communities.
"The Waterside Shared Village project will accommodate a wide range of events and programmes and in particular will showcase how sport can bring people from different backgrounds together, encouraging engagement and inclusivity.
"I want to acknowledge the continued good work by the community representatives from both Irish Street Youth & Community Association and Hillcrest Trust, who as project partners have had such an important role in shaping the development. Council would also like to thank residents in the area for their continued support of the project and for their patience and cooperation for the duration of these works. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused."
Community Workers, Niree McMorris, Irish Street Community & Youth Association, and Geraldine Doherty, Hillcrest Trust, in a joint statement said they are delighted that the Waterside Shared Village will see the culmination of many years work between their two distinct areas within the Waterside, stressing that it will not only change the physical landscape of the area but will improve the life chances of the residents.
"The project will help build reconciliation by bringing people from all backgrounds together and allowing them to engage and interact with each other in a shared space.
"It will also people to build new relationships and renew old friendships through joint educational, sport and recreational programmes as well as being a visible manifestation of the shared future which the EU Peace IV Programme aims to support."
Work on the Waterside Shared Village Project will commence on site next week and are expected to be completed by Summer 2022.
For further information on the project or concerns please visit the website on
http://derrystrabaneleisure.com/watersidesharedvillage/ or contact the Project Officer, Leanne Thompson on [email protected] or by telephone on 02871253253.