100 historic Derry buildings ‘at risk’

SDLP councillor Martin Reilly. (1603MM18)
SDLP councillor Martin Reilly. (1603MM18)

Up to 100 historic buildings in Derry could be in danger, campaigners have warned.

Mary Kerrigan, education officer of the Walled City Partnership, made the claim at the monthly meeting of Derry City Council’s development committee on Tuesday.

She told councillors that a number of buildings in the city centre have been refurbished but added that more needs to be done.

“There are 80 to 100 historic buildings and sites still at risk, that is, vacant, derelict, or on the way to becoming derelict. Glasgow has 150 so for a city this size it puts it into perspective,” she said.

Mrs Kerrigan said many of the buildings are unlisted but could play a role in explaining the history of the city. “Some of these may seem like they are not important but they help us to tell the story of the city’s past,” she said.

She also voiced concerns about the commitment to heritage in the plans to regenerate the city. “I am not clear where heritage has a place in the One Plan. I have concerns about that. I have a sense that heritage is not seen as progressive regeneration.

“There is a critical question for everyone in the city. We have thousands of square feet of vacant floor space in the city.

“Can we continue to build new buildings when we have vacant floor space in the city?” she asked.

The chair of the development committee SDLP councillor Martin Reilly said he wanted more information on the buildings at risk. “Buildings are more than just bricks and mortar. It would be interesting to hear more about the 80-100 buildings at risk and what we are doing to find funding,” he said.

Sinn Féin colr. Maeve McLaughlin said: “We have a huge legacy of historic buildings. It is quite alarming to listen to statistics about buildings at risk.

“It still seems to be about planning and is linked to the fact that we are working with an area plan that is severely out of date. The protection of buildings needs to be in that discussion,” she said.

Colr, McLaughlin also encouraged the Walled City Partnership to get involved in the One Plan. “One lesson this city has learned is that a number of years ago we had 98 plans on the table, not one plan. I would like to see more of a formal link there.

“I do think this city is in a better place with the One Plan but if there are people on the outside of that process we need to bring them into the inside,” she said.