Farry says no Magee ‘Plan B’

The Magee campus of the University of Ulster. (050711SML78 Magee)
The Magee campus of the University of Ulster. (050711SML78 Magee)

Land vacated by the proposed move of Foyle College remains the only site being considered for the expansion of Magee, the north’s higher education minister says.

Alliance Minster Stephen Farry says no other sites are under consideration for the much vaunted expansion of Derry’s University of Ulster campus.

Dr. Farry was responding to a question from East Derry DUP MLA Gregory Campbell, who asked the Minster “whether alternative sites are being considered for the expansion of the University of Ulster’s Magee Campus.”

“The University of Ulster has advised that whilst some expansion can take place on its current site, the University’s preferred site for expansion beyond the current site remains the Foyle and Londonderry College site,” the Minister says.

“No other sites are currently being considered.”

In December 2009, the University and Foyle College agreed an option agreement that would see the University acquire 30 acres of land when Foyle moves to the Waterside.

In recent weeks there has been growing uncertainty over the plans to expand Magee.

Concern centres on a lack of available funds that would prohibit Foyle College moving to the Waterside and freeing up land for Magee’s growth.

Education minister John O’Dowd has stated a decision on the Foyle move would be made in September after he reviews the department’s capital builds projects.

Last month lobby group U4D ( University for Derry) chairman Padraig Canavan said other locations should now be considered for the expansion of the University of Ulster’s plans to expand Magee.

“If the Foyle College site were immediately available for the expansion of Magee, that would be a great option. But if the Foyle College site is not promptly available, other location alternatives should be considered.

“To refuse to consider those alternatives would leave the expansion an unnecessary hostage to fortune.”

He said the expansion at Magee is key to the creation of jobs, wealth generation and investment in Derry.