Derry City Councillors have agreed to plug a funding gap to allow a massive overhaul of sport and leisure provision in the Brandywell to go ahead.
The Council’s Development Committee held a confidential meeting to discuss the funding deficit for the mammoth sports regeneration project on Friday afternoon.
The Brandywell Stadium, Showgrounds and Daisyfield areas are all earmarked for redevelopment, with a portfolio of new facilities in the pipeline.
A well-placed source told the Journal that the committee has agreed to recommend that the shortfall of £2.15m be met to ensure the project can get under way within months. This will bring the council’s overall contribution to £4.9m, with new estimates putting the total project cost at £9.2m.
The decision by the local Development Committee will now be examined by a sub-group of the new Derry-Strabane Supercouncil.
Indications are however that the decision will be endorsed by the sub-group, and ultimate approval rubber-stamped at the next full meeting of the 40-strong supercouncil on July 23rd.
The project is being taken forward by Derry City Council, with the Department for Culture Arts and Leisure and the Office of the First and Deputy First Ministers each making substantial contributions toward it. Sport NI are also understood to be providing support.
The first phase of the three-part Brandywell investment- which is a core element of the Foyle Valley Gateway Project- will see the Brandywell stadium receive a major upgrade.
A new stand will be constructed on the Lone Moor Road side of the ground, with a new state-of-the-art 4G pitch replacing the current grass surface.
The revamped stadium will be able to accommodate 6,000 people.
Other core elements of the plan include the a new greyhound racing track next the Showgrounds, with bookmaking, spectator and kennel facilities.
Brandywell Sports Centre is also earmarked for demolition to be replaced with more modern facilities.
The current recycling amenity site at the Brandywell is expected to be relocated to Pennyburn Industrial Estate, while the local authority will provide alternative recycling facilities.
The final phase will see the focus shift to the Daisyfield, where a new full-size grass pitch is to be laid, plus a three-quarter size 3G training pitch, with a new six block changing pavilion to be constructed.
A statement from Derry City Council is expected to be issued later.