Fort George to become car park for culture year

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Plans are underway to solve Derry’s City of Culture parking problems with a ‘park and stride’ facility at the vacant Fort George site.

A proposal has been lodged with planners to create 749 car parking spaces to cope with the expected hike in the volume of vehicles coming to the city throughout 2013.

The planning application has been lodged by Derry’s urban regeneration company, Ilex - which is responsible for the site - following calls from the local Fleadh Executive Committee and the Culture Company.

A large part of the 14 acre site is to be used for the temporary car park, which is expected to be open to the public throughout 2013 until January next year.

Lawrence McCullough, Fort George development manager for Ilex, said the move made perfect sense as Derry gears up for an influx of visitors. “We were approached by the local Fleadh committee about using the site for short term parking for camper vans during the event. We were further approached by the City of Culture group about the provision of a ‘park and stride’ facility.”

He added the parking facility will “certainly be a temporary measure to facilitate transport arrangements” during the year long celebration of Derry’s City of Culture designation.

He added that work carried out - including the laying of stone - to prepare the site for use as a car park would not “waste” resources. “The stone used for the capping layer will not be removed again as it will be part of the overall remediation strategy.”

He said that ongoing work on the decontamination of the site was well underway and will be completed after the car park closes ahead of summer 2014.

The North West Regional Science Park is also due to be completed in around May next year.

In November Environment Minister Alex Attwood gave the green light to plans for the Fort George science park. Approval has been given for a four storey building dedicated to IT and science based businesses.

The park will be part of a cross border project in conjunction with the Letterkenny Institute of Technology and is modelled on the Northern Ireland Science Park in Belfast.

The science park will be the first major development (the Project Kelvin telehouse was developed several years ago) on the site since it was vacated by the Ministry of Defence.