‘An element of now or never’ for Magee

Magee Ulster University campus
Magee Ulster University campus

The expansion of Magee would help offset problems being experienced with Ulster University’s plans to increase its presence in Belfast, it has been claimed.

People Before Profit have claimed that there has never been a better chance for Derry to win a major expansion.

“This could be Magee’s moment,” a PBP spokesman said. “But there needs to be immediate action, with the backing of all local interest groups.”

He added that the issues in Belfast included resident opposition to plans for student accommodation.

The spokesman further claimed that University plans to sell off the major chunk of its Jordanstown campus for a private development which would see 600 houses built for sale, plus other facilities.

“But that idea was refused planning permission last Monday at a meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s planning committee,” the spokesman said, proposing: “One obvious way to alleviate the university’s problem is to move at least one faculty – including its administration – to Derry.

“Magee has a ready-made, brilliant site for a university faculty or faculties – the main building at Ebrington. The square at Ebrington is crying out to be used as Magee’s second campus. Hundreds of reasonably well-paid jobs would come with the move we are suggesting.

“A spokesman for the property developers hired by the university to take the Belfast plan forward defended the proposal this week by saying that ‘Belfast is playing catch-up with other university cities’. We don’t want to sell Belfast short - but that statement could have been made a hundred times over about Magee and Derry.

“There’s an element of now-or-never about this.”

A spokesperson for Ulster University responded: “The University is not associated with any proposed student accommodation developments in Belfast city centre.

“The development of our Belfast campus has not been impacted by the planning decision made in relation to the Jordanstown site.

“Development work at Belfast remains on schedule and the University is currently reviewing its options in relation to the planning proposals for Jordanstown.”