New domestic violence centre at Convent of Mercy site will preserve historic buildings for posterity

The former Convent of Mercy, Pump Street. 2001JM63
The former Convent of Mercy, Pump Street. 2001JM63

An architect with the local housing association, Apex, has advised members of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Health and Community Committee that the development of a new family justice centre at the old Convent of Mercy in Derry city centre will secure the future of two listed buildings on the site.

Siobhan Porter told councillors the development of Foyle Women’s Aid’s proposed new ‘One Safe Place’ multi-agency hub will achieve the twin aims of helping victims of domestic violence and ensuring a much-loved part of the Derry streetscape doesn’t crumble into oblivion as years of neglect are spent.

The new centre, which will include 14 supported housing units for domestic violence survivors, will be created through the renovation of the two listed buildings on Pump Street, one of which was built in 1780, the other in the 1830s.

Ms. Porter said: “Anybody from the town will know these buildings, which are a part of the streetscape, but sadly, the buildings are in a very poor state of repair.”

She revealed a conservation specialist, while surveying the buildings, had to conduct part of the survey on his hands and knees because one of the buildings was so unsafe.

She said developing the justice centre would secure the buildings’ future while bringing a new dynamic to Pump Street with residents professionals and members of the public all expected to use the centre when renovations are completed.