£6m funding gap for ‘eroding’ Queen’s Quay site

Queen's Quay Car Park and River Foyle Walkway. DER1915MC008
Queen's Quay Car Park and River Foyle Walkway. DER1915MC008

Over £6.4m will be needed to safeguard the future of the “eroding structure” that Queen’s Quay car park and popular walkway have been built on, it has emerged.

The huge costs were laid bare at a meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Governanace and Strategic Planning Committee on Monday evening.

Council officials have now sent a letter to Minister Regional Development Danny Kennedy expressing their concerns over the cost implications of the transfer of the Queen’s Quay car park and public realm area from central government to the local authority.

A report was brought before the committee detailing central government funding reductions and what they will mean in practice.

A senior council officer said they had numerous concerns about the cost implications of car parks in general and especially Queen’s Quay- an area which has become extremely popular with walkers, cyclists and motorists, and which is also the staging ground for the Clipper Maritime Festival, which attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year.

His report stated: “Of particular and significant concern to Council is the transfer of Queen’s Quay car park and public realm.

“Unlike the other car parks transferred, this asset is situated on an eroding structure as opposed to solid ground and at some stage will require significant expenditure.

“Following initial concerns identified in Council’s due diligence report and a number of requests to DRD officials, Council is now in receipt of a feasibility report on Queen’s Quay which quantifies this expenditure at £6.401m.”

The report also reveals: “A letter has been sent to the Minister advising Council’s concerns which DRD are currently considering. This is a significant liability which Council does not have the financial resources to fund.”

Independent Derry-Strabane Councillor Dee Quigley said that the issue needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency by central government.

Colr. Quigley said: “The public are already being pushed as far as they can go and I am sure this issue will be of serious concern to ratepayers in the council area.

“The Department need to step up to the plate here.”

Speaking at the meeting, Ulster Unionist Party Councillor Derek Hussey said it was “a disgrace” and questioned why the council should have to take on facilities that are not fit for purpose.

Responsibility for 30 public car parks transferred from the Department to Derry City & Strabane District Council on April 1st.

Whilst 16 of these car parks are free to use for local people, the remainder are paid for, but the council said projected incomes were unrealistic, with an expected shortfall of at least £94,000.

Concerns have also been raised that there is a further shortfall of up to £119,000 for resurfacing and line painting, gritting and refuse collection at the car parks.

The report states: “The transfer of off-street parking functions clearly does not represent a rates neutral transfer to this Council from both an income and a cost perspective.

“These concerns have been continually highlighted to the Department without progress.”