Two historic buildings in Derry are to get makeovers thanks to funding from carrier bag levy receipts.
The former Derry Cathedral Primary School at London Street in the heart of the Walled City is to be transformed into a tourism venue while essential repair and maintenance is to take place at St Eugene’s Cathedral.
DOE Minister Mark H Durkan says that, with funding tightly squeezed in his department, buildings will only attract funding if they provide direct benefit to local communities.
He added: “This is some good news for our built environment in the North. Obviously, I would like to fund many more projects but that was not possible given the dire economic situation. Under the budget cuts, no money was to be allocated. Now some important community and church buildings will benefit.
“I needed to prioritise. I am doing that by directing the scarce funds available to those buildings that have the greatest potential of providing maximum benefits for local communities and the environment.
“These buildings, some lying derelict and forlorn for years, will now see essential repair and maintenance with new life and usage breathed into them for the benefit of all.”
Minister Durkan added that, when the Carrier Bag Levy was introduced, the promise was that it would be spent on the environment and for the benefit of everyone.
“We are fulfilling that promise, but in a focussed way with emphasis on projects that benefit communities,” he said.
The former Derry Cathedral Primary School is a grade B1 Victorian ‘Flemish’ red brick Gothic-style former school building built in 1891 to designs by John Guy Ferguson.
Its south east elevation rests on the historic City Walls with St. Columb’s Cathedral immediately to the south west.
The plan is to convert it into a tourist attraction incorporating exhibition space and a coffee shop.
Meanwhile, the Grade B+ St Eugene Cathedral foundation stone was laid in 1851, to designs of JJ McCarthy. Its spire was designed in a more decorative Gothic style by G Ashlin and E.J. Toye and completed in 1903. The building was consecrated in 1936.