ILEX, the company set-up to oversee the urban regeneration of Derry, is to be officially wound up next year.
The announcment was made by the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM), after the publication of an independent review into ILEX on Thursday. Ilex will close on March 31, 2016.
The responsibility for the regeneration of Ebrington Square will now return to OFMDFM after the entire senior management team at ILEX resigned recently.
The duties carried out by ILEX will be gradually absorbed by Derry City and Strabane District Council.
Accepting the findings of the independent review Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness said: “Derry City and Strabane District Council has indicated it stands ready to discuss the transfer of the regeneration of the site [Ebrington] to the council. Although a transfer cannot happen immediately, the intention that the council should take responsibility for the Ebrington site to deliver the capital works remains our preferred option which we would wish to see achieved by 2017.
“In the interim given the need to progress development, responsibility for the Ebrington site will be returned to OFMDFM with management of the capital projects being taken forward by senior OFMDFM officials in conjunction with the Strategic Investment Board (SIB).
“OFMDFM will work closely with the board and staff of Ilex to close the company and ensure the development of Ebrington including the Grade A office accommodation proposed for the site will proceed as planned. The company will be closing by March 31 2016 and all affected staff will be eligible to receive any redundancy entitlements. OFMDFM officials will work with the Ilex Board to assist staff throughout this process.
First Minister Peter Robinson said: “We are grateful for all the work undertaken by Ilex at Ebrington since 2003 which has opened the site up for all the people of Londonderry and beyond.
“We commissioned an independent review of Ilex Urban Regeneration Company in January 2015 to consider the continued need for the company. The review examined its effectiveness, purpose, aims, objectives, value for money and funding arrangements with particular emphasis on its effectiveness for the development of the Ebrington site.
“The work of an urban regeneration company should be time-bound, and this was identified in current and previous reviews. The reviews concluded Ilex should have a limited lifespan and its work should ultimately move to the local council that remains the long term plan. However, in the short term given the recent resignations of the entire senior management team we have decided that the development of Ebrington will be led by OFMDFM.
“Discussions are already well advanced between Ilex, DSD and Derry City and Strabane District Council, in relation to the formal transfer of the One Plan Team to the Community Planning role within the Council.”