Historic streetscape is ‘being destroyed’
Streets in one of Derry’s few conservation areas are being stripped of their “vitally important historic detail,” according to a local heritage group.
The Walled City Partnership (WCP) says both Clarendon Street and Queen Street have lost “irreplaceable expressions of physical culture” in recent months.
Ongoing work on the streets - which are within the Clarendon Street Conservation Area - is, says WCP, destroying historic detail.
A spokesperson for the group said it had been told the work was being carried out to ‘improve’ the appearance of the streets in time for the UK city of Culture 2013.
“Derry’s old streets - including all their details - are a unique expression of this city’s culture,” added the spokesperson. “Everything inside a conservation area is supposed to be preserved or enhanced. No harm should be done. Department for Regional Development (Roads Service) is doing the work. Department for Social Development is paying for it. Planning NI and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency have agreed to what is happening.
“Clarendon Street and Queen Street lost all of their old cast iron street lights in August. These were at least 85 years old and internationally important.
“And, just this week, old original Mourne granite kerbs were dug up and loaded onto a lorry. “
Derry’s unique expression of physical culture is, according to WCP, being lost forever.
“In Belfast, an outcry by Rugby Road residents halted removal of their old granite kerbs,” continued the spokesperson. “This flouting of the ‘Sustainable Development Strategy for NI’ was raised with DRD Minister Danny Kennedy by the SDLP’s Alban McGinness and the Alliance Party (South Belfast). Walled City Partnership asked DSD to stop the same destruction here on August 31 and again earlier this week but the work continues.”
WCP says the public can play its part by contacting their MP, MLAs, local councillors and the DSD and DRD Ministers to register their objection to the removal of existing old granite kerbs, old street lights and paving.
SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey said: “I have been in contact with Roads Service and the North West Development Office on behalf of constituents who are concerned about the loss of the unique kerbstones - concern that has been compounded by the loss of old cast iron street lights in Clarendon St a short time ago that were believed to be up to 85 years old. The City’s heritage is part of our tourist offering as well as part of the mix of what makes this City historically important and a beacon for cities around the world as to how we treat our built heritage.”
The Department for Social Development (DSD), which is funding the work, has said the kerbstones will be “kept and reused, where appropriate”.
“The present quality of the footways on Clarendon Street is exceedingly poor and does not present a positive image of Londonderry,” a DSD spokeswoman said.
“Extensive discussions involving the department, DRD Roads Service, DoE Planning Service, and Northern Ireland Environment Agency were held to agree the selection of materials.
“The department believes that the completion of the scheme will enhance the built heritage of Clarendon Street, in preparation for the UK City of Culture celebrations in 2013.”
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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