A Derry based charity for adults with learning disabilities has shown the Derry Journal detailed plans to transform the Foyle Valley Railway site on the Foyle Road into a centre for people with learning disabilities in the North West.
The multi-million pound plans, which were revealed exclusively to the Derry Journal, include a pontoon, a river side cafe, a state of the art IT suite and sports facilities.
If successful with their bid to take over the lease of the Derry City Council (DCC) owned building it is thought that Destined would draw down between £1m and £2m in funding to develop the site.
The Derry Journal understands that the centre could host other organisations involved with people with learning disabilities.
Destined has also made into the final six of 87 applications to Big Lottery Fund programme ‘Space and Place’. Destined is in with a fantastic chance of being awarded with almost £1m and if successful it would enable the organisation to start moving towards the goal of transforming the Foyle Valley Railway site into a state of the art facility for adults with learning disabilities.
“We have contacted DCC to express our interest in taking over the lease,” explained Dermot O’Hara from Destined.
“If successful, we would want the railway museum to remain where it is and work it into our strategy for adults with learning disabilities.
“It would be an amazing step for our city to take. We would want the centre to look after and offer support to people with learning disabilities from a very young to an old age.”
The plans set out the intention to build a significant sized extension to the Foyle Valley Railway Museum and an appeal would be made to those in charge of the Foyle Valley Gateway Masterplan to allow for the small railway line near the building to remain.
“Obviously the main thrust of the centre would be for people with learning disabilities and their families.
“However, it would be our intention to this at the same time as promoting the location as a tourist destination.
“We have plans to buy a small cruiser and run tours of the River Foyle from a pontoon plus we’d hope the Foyle Valley Gateway Masterplan would allow for the railway line to continue to exist because any plan for this site has to include the railway.
“We also envisage that the centre would create employment for people with learning disabilities and that ties in with our ethos of social inclusion,” added Mr. O’Hara.
Mr. O’Hara said he is keen to hear other peoples’ opinions on Destined’s plans for the Foyle Valley Railway site and encouraged people to get in touch.
Sinn Fein MEP, Martina Anderson, said she supported the bid.
”This plan to create a dedicated North West Centre for people with learning difficulties would provide a focal point for inclusion and integration.
“It would create a state of the art facility involving education, training, employment, social and recreation figures for people with learning difficulties in the city and wider North West.”
To contact Dermot O’Hara at Destined email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 028 7136 2424