The £2.3m facility is the result of a £1.3m investment by Derry City and Strabane District Council, and £1m from the Department for Communities.
The Minister and Mayor were joined by local community representatives, on site for the opening of the two storey building on the grounds of the former Immaculate Conception College.
Mayor Warke said: “This is the second good news story for the Waterside area in recent months, following on from the official launch of the Waterside Shared Village project. Creating modern and welcoming shared community spaces to accommodate a wide range of services, activities and events remains a top priority within Council’s capital programme, and addressing community need for state of the art facilities. I want to thank the Minister today for her continuing support of the North West where the legacy of underinvestment has seen community areas neglected for too long. I also want to acknowledge our community partners and all they have contributed to the project.”
The building will comprise of a split level facility incorporating space for Hillcrest Trust, Jack & Jill Pre-school, a youth club, a 220m2 sports hall as well as car parking on site.
Minister Hargey said: “The provision of this funding through my Neighbourhood Renewal Programme, will be of great benefit to those who live in the local area. This investment will improve community based services and will help to improve the quality of life for local people for years to come.
“This is one of several similar investments that my department has made in the North West area and I am delighted to deliver once again for local communities.”
Edel O’Doherty, Chairperson of Hillcrest Trust, said she was delighted to see the formal opening of the doors at the new Community space which will be known as ‘An Chroi’, at the heart of our Community. “This beautiful and spacious new Centre will allow us to realise our ambitious plans for the physical and social regeneration of the Top of the Hill area. The Board, Management and Staff of Hillcrest look forward with great anticipation to fully maximising the potential of the Centre, by providing a diverse range of programmes and activities in response to, and in partnership with local people. We encourage all residents of the Top of the Hill and the Greater Waterside to participate in and support the new Centre. I would like to pay tribute to DCSDC, Department for Communities for their support and to Glendermott Parish who gifted the land for the new Centre.”
Director of Health and Community with Council, Karen McFarland, praised the work of all the partners involved in the completion of the project. “This is a long awaited and much needed facility for the Top of the Hill area, and it has been successfully delivered thanks to the efforts of community organisations in the area, particularly Hillcrest Trust, working closely with DCSDC and of course the Department.
“Council recognises the serious need for fit for purpose facilities to support and empower local communities, and the creation of these shared amenities is a priority within the Strategic Growth Plan for Derry and Strabane. I want to thank all the partners involved and also to acknowledge the work of Council staff in progressing this development despite the additional challenges of the past year.”