The decision by the Department of Infrastructure to finally approve plans for a Maritime Museum at Ebrington will hasten the completion of a major tourist draw in the heart of Derry, according to local politicians who have hailed the move.
DfI this week finally approved planning permission for the Maritime Museum, which is expected to open in Spring 2020.
It also gave the green light for new vehicular/pedestrian access off Limavady Road via a new signalised junction.
Both applications are part of the wider ongoing regeneration at Ebrington.
Local politicians said the progress was welcome and that the museum would ultimately showcase Derry's unrivalled nautical heritage and attract hundreds of thousands of tourists to the city.
SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H. Durkan: “I welcome this planning decision as another piece in the Ebrington jigsaw. On the back of other recent developments and approvals on the site, it is becoming clear that the huge potential of this key site can be realised.
"Before I established a Department of Environment North-West Headquarters there a few years ago, there were no jobs and precious little activity in Ebrington. Local businesses have now set up there and in the future, with careful planning and adequate investment, the place will be awash with activity.
"The Maritime Museum itself has been talked about for a long time. It is fitting that we celebrate the rich maritime history of our City in a way that will enhance our ever –improving tourism product.’"
Sinn Féin spokesperson on tourism, Councillor Mickey Cooper said: “I welcome the news that planning permission has been approved for the museum. Taken in tandem with the awarding of Heritage Lottery funding for the project to compliment council funding which has already been allocated, brings the project another step closer. We need now to look towards Tourism NI providing their match funding to allow the project to move to the construction stage.
"I believe that this project will be a game changer for the local tourism economy by providing another unique selling point for Derry by attracting visitors interested in pursuing their genealogical connections to the North West.
"It will give the city a major attraction which I am confident will attract a range of coach operators and tour agencies to send their groups to the city alongside the many private travellers who will visit the new facility."
Foyle DUP MLA Gary Middleton said: “It’s very welcome news that planning approval has now been granted for the Maritime Museum to be based at Ebrington Square. The museum will be sited at Buildings 45, 46 and 49.
"There has also been planning permission granted for a new vehicular access off the Limavady Road along with a signalised junction.
"These new developments will ensure that Ebrington Square will continue to grow and that our tourism offering will be increased. I look forward to seeing these plans developing to the next stage.”