Derry’s historic Walled City must not lose out in the drive to create a new cultural quarter at Ebrington, a local heritage activist has warned.
Mark Lusby, of the City Walls Heritage Project, spoke out following the publication of proposals to develop the former military site in the Waterside.
According to urban regeneration company Ilex, the development framework could provide up to 2,400 permanent jobs.
It’s understood around 80% of the plan - which is currently on display as part of a public consultation - focuses on cultural development.
Mark Lusby says any moves to see “real development” happening at the Ebrington site are to be welcomed.
“But the creation of a new cultural quarter should not be at the expense of Derry’s existing culture and heritage quarters in and around the Walled City,” he said.
He says “uncertainty” created by lack of delivery of the original Ebrington Masterplan - published in 2005 - has “stunted” the regeneration of the “city’s historic core on the west bank.”
“Many heritage and cultural organisations already located in and around the Walled City have shelved development plans pending space being made available at Ebrington,” he added. “The scale and complexity of the Ebrington site has consumed the attention of many public agencies over the past decade and, as a result, the Walled City and surrounding neighbourhoods have not seen the scale of master planning and public investment one would have expected.
“The area of the city linked by Bishop Street, stretching from the Diamond to the top of the Flyover, is a case in point. This is one of the most historically rich quarters of the city but is still dominated by surface car parking, gap sites, incoherent development and, in places, an air of neglect.
“It’s essential the ILEX framework attracts new audiences to Derry and doesn’t simply spread out the existing audience for culture and heritage across a massively expanded historic city core.”