The Council’s Environment and Regeneration Committee been updated on how greenways across the north west are progressing.
Jonathan Henderson, NW Greenways Programme Manager and Mike Savage, Greenways Development Officer brought members up to speed on active projects.
Mr Henderson said: “The aim is to deliver 46.5km of cross border greenway linking Lifford-Strabane, Derry-Muff (incl. Bay Rd Bridge) and Derry-Buncrana, Strathfoyle Greenway and Strathfoyle-Maydown link, Strabane North Greenway and Castlederg greenway extension.”
CROSS BORDER PRJECTS
Mr Henderson said the Lifford and Strabane Greenway, which provides 6km of greenway was “at the stage of practical completion and the entire project cost in the region of £1.28m.”
Members were told that land acquisitions are progressing for the Derry to Muff greenway following planning approval for the Culmore greenway which is around 10 kilometres. “Across the board, discussions with landowners have been very amicable to date and we hope to be in a position to have acquired all landholdings by the end of this year with a view to completing the procurement process for that later next year,” said Mr. Henderson.
“The Derry to Buncrana greenway is progressing through design and development. It will be the most challenging route. It is 32.5 km long and will see a connection from St. Columb’s College to Buncrana. We are working our way through the challenges and it will be 2024 before we can hit the site.”
“With regards to the Strathfoyle Greenway which will be 2.4km long, we have appointed the design consultancy to take this one forward. We should be completing the last two parcels of land acquisitions in the next few weeks. We would be hoping to go on-site to start work in December or January and have the greenway open in summer 22.
“The Department for Infrastructure are developing the Strathfoyle to Maydown link and at the moment it should be open in summer of this year.”
The NW Greenways Programme Manager moved on to the Castlederg greenway saying: “We are at the practical completion stage for the greenway running between Castle Park and St Eugene’s grounds. This has seen 1.1 km completed with funding secured. This project is very much the first phase and the second phase will provide an additional 300 metres added to the network.”
Greenways Development Officer Mike Savage told the committee the Strabane Canal has proved to be extremely popular. “The Strabane Canal project is coming near completion. We upgraded 1.4km of the canal towpath to greenway standard. That’s been incredibly popular with people to go walking and cycling especially during Covid times. It’s very well received to the extent we are having to tackle car parking issues in the area,” he said.
Mr Savage explained that Council has over 150 potential routes plotted and in order to take them forward officers were proposing they hold District Electoral Area (DEA)-specific meetings with members to look at forward plans.
SDLP Councillor Steven Edwards agreed with Mr Savage about the popularity of the Strabane Canal project. “The number of people that have been using Strabane Canal over the last number of months is surreal,” he said.
Karen Phillips, Director of Environment and Regeneration said members’ engagement over the coming weeks would be ‘vital’ in terms of greenway development adding that ‘Council has made it a very high priority.’
UUP Ald. Hussey welcomed the planned DEA meetings saying: “I look forward to those. The ideas, the projects are there – let’s get them talked over, the quicker we have that meeting, the better.”
PBP Colr. Maeve O’Neill ‘loved the enthusiasm for cycle paths and greenways’: “As a cyclist myself who commutes from Creggan to Altnagelvin most days as a user of the road and paths you can really see the untapped potential.”
DUP Alderman David Ramsey described it as an ‘exciting time, especially for the area I represent, the Waterside’. “The greenways have played a major part in linking up the Waterside and I look forward to seeing it progress.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Fleming acknowledged the work the officers have carried out on the projects. He described the ‘excitement and verve’ from all communities shows how beneficial the greenways have been especially during the pandemic.
“There is a big appetite across the city and district for this to continue so the proposed meetings with the DEAs are very welcome.”
By Gillian Anderson
Local Democracy Reporter