The Office Of The First and Deputy First Minister have claimed spending millions in public money on a private car park and other facilities is essential to help attract investors to Ebrington.
OFMDFM officials were responding after it emerged that the new 214-space car park built with public money from OFMDFM would not be open to the people of Derry.
Instead, the facility is being offered to businesses which set up in Ebrington.
The news has caused outrage locally, but regeneration company Ilex- which was tasked to deliver the car park and bring investment to the former military base- has defended not making the 214-space car park available to the public.
Officials at Peter Robinson’s and Martin McGuinness’ department last night also moved to defend the decision, although they also said that at most, 80 people are expected to be employed at Ebrington by the end of April this year.
An OFMDFM spokesman said: “The provision of adequate car parking on the Ebrington site is a prerequisite for planning approval and the overall development of Ebrington.
“The car park is primarily for business located on the site and visitors. As a 26-acre site for marketing and development, Ebrington must offer parking as part of the package available to investors.”
Commenting on interest, he added: “To date, Ilex has received 60 formal expressions of interest and by the end of April 2015 six buildings will be occupied with up to 80 jobs and an additional six buildings currently being negotiated. All tenants and their visitors will avail of the underground parking, as will event organisers and associated traders. Ilex will now work with these potential tenants to ensure such additional job opportunities can be realised.”
He added: “OFMDFM has invested in capital infrastructure to make Ebrington more attractive to investors and developers. The responsibility to promote Ebrington rests with Ilex. OFMDFM has and will continue to work with Ilex to ensure the development of Ebrington remains its key priority.”