More than half a million pounds is to be spent on environmental improvements in Derry ahead of the city of culture year.
The money, announced this morning by the north’s environment minister Alex Atwood will be used to carry out work including the enhancement of the City Walls including railings and the removal of graffiti, almost £100,000 on tidying the Tillie and Henderson site and environmental works at the roundabout junction at Strand Road/Queen’s Quay.
Vacant and derelict shops will be covered up with hoardings complete with images of the city’s cultural past and present .
Alex Attwood said: “Derry City will be very much in the international spotlight next year as UK City of Culture. Over half a million pounds of funding will go a long way towards ridding the city of derelict eyesores.
“If we want tourists to stay longer, if we want more tourists to come, then tackling major eyesores and dereliction will certainly help. While this is timely in relation to the City of Culture year, I am doing this to benefit tourism in the long term which in turn will create the opportunity to attract inward investment. Only this week, Derry was named fourth best city in the world to visit in 2013 by the Lonely Planet Guide and initiatives like this all help to cement that position. Let’s not forget that the citizens of Derry will also benefit with the character of their built environment improved.”
Alex Attwood continued: “As Minister, I released £400,000 for Portrush and Portstewart in March. This funding boost addressed decay and dereliction leading up to the Irish Open Golf competition. It worked well which is why I made the case to do the same in Derry ahead of its period as the UK City of Culture. Further, by working with local councils I am confident that major eyesores and dereliction within cities, towns and villages can be tackled.
“Our built and natural heritage are essential elements of our economy and jobs. They will be the biggest part of future increases in tourist numbers and spend. Growing tourism from a £500million to a £1billion a year industry will revolve around the positive protection and development of this heritage.”
Work will be carried out in Carlisle Circus, City Walls Circuit, Duke Street, Foyle Street and Strand Road.
Queens Quay, Waterloo Place, William Street and Great James Street are also in line for improvements.