Call for funding for Pilots Row revamp

Pilot's Row Community Centre has been at the centre of community activity for three decades.
Pilot's Row Community Centre has been at the centre of community activity for three decades.

Sinn Féin Councillor Colly Kelly has called for one the city’s oldest community centres to be replaced.

Colr. Kelly said there was a great need for Pilot’s Row Community Centre in the Bogside to be rebuilt,as it was now almost four decades since it opened.

Pilot’s Row is the only remaining centre in the city which is under the joint authority of Derry City & Strabane District Council and the Education Authority.

The facility first opened its doors to the public on April 30, 1980 and has been a vital resource ever since, Colr. Kelly said. It was set up as a joint provision Youth and Community Centre and has hosted hundreds of thousands of people over the years.

The centre is home to the local youth club, as well as sporting and recreational and arts and crafts groups and projects. It also hosts a wide range of events annually. Colr. Kelly said that as a result, the centre remained very much at the heart of the community and as such the building’s many users deserved upgraded and modern facilities.

Calling for a new purpose-built facility that would suit the needs of these diverse user groups, Colr. Kelly said: “The Pilots Row Centre has served the local community and indeed people right across the city well for over three decades now.

“It’s a hive of activity day and night and offers programmes for people of all ages to take part in.

“ It has also been the scene of many key political discussions during the likes of the local Féile.

“It’s clear that the building is starting to show its age and is in need of a major revamp to bring it up to modern day standards and designs.

“We need to invest now in Pilots Row, modernise it and leave it in a good place for future generations. There is so much activity but it needs to be brought up to date to provide a 21st Century facility.”

Colr. Kelly said that a rebuild on the same site was the preferred option going forward.

“We are looking for a feasibility study to be carried out with a view to getting a more purpose built building. We are looking for a rebuild.”

He also suggested that the current centre could continue to operate while a newbuild centre was constructed on the existing car parking facility next to it.