Radical plans for more pedestrian and trader friendly Derry city centre to kick in next month

A one-way system is to be introduced within the Walled City of Derry from April for a period of 18 months as part of radical plans for a new more pedestrian and trader friendly city centre.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 12:13 pm

Parking bays in the Diamond are to be removed while new mini-parks or green spaces are to be developed on Bishop Street to improve the environment for outdoor trading and dining in the city centre.

The new scheme is being brought forward by the Infrastructure Minister Nicola Mallon in conjunction with Derry City and Strabane District Council.

The goal is to make the city centre more pedestrian and trader friendly as we commence the COVID-19 recovery.

Shipquay Street

Measures include the introduction of a one way system from Carlisle Road, through Ferryquay Gate into The Diamond; removal of the existing parking area at the quadrant outside the former Austin’s department store to create more public space: the introduction of a priority system for traffic at Shipquay Gate which will allow a new footway to be created under this historic gate: and developing proposals for parklets on Bishop Street to facilitate outdoor trading opportunities for café- type businesses.

Making the announcement Minister Mallon said: “The Covid pandemic has brought many changes to how we conduct our daily lives and as we move towards a recovery phase I want to play my part in the transformation that our society deserves. This means creating a greener, cleaner more sustainable environment with less reliance on motor vehicles and a renewed focus on those who wish to walk, wheel and cycle. Once completed these measures will transform the Derry cityscape, providing safe spaces for all who work and live there to meet, shop and travel.

“I am also committed to working with other local councils, stakeholders and local people so that we can shape our future together and deliver similar changes across our villages, towns and cities.”

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Colr. Brian Tierney welcomed the introduction of the new measures saying he hoped they would facilitate the reopening of businesses once restrictions were lifted and help encourage the public back into the city centre to socialise and shop in a safe environment.

It's hoped the plans will provide more space for outdoor trading.

He added “These temporary interventions will redesign this important urban space and create a more attractive and accessible town centre that will help restore customer confidence and drive footfall so we can rebuild our business, retail, tourism and hospitality sectors as they prepare to reopen.”

The temporary prohibition of turning movements in Ferryquay Street and Carlisle Road is for a period of 18 months and with the Carlisle Road, Ferryquay Street and Diamond elements scheduled to become effective in April 2021.

This will reduce the traffic on this busy city centre street. Traffic will be moved to the centre of the existing 2 way road which will allow additional width to be allocated to separate the existing narrow footways from the road. The separation will be provided by cylinders fixed to the roadway.

Ms. Mallon was asked about moves towards greater pedestrianisation in Derry city centre by her party colleague Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin in the Assembly on Monday.

A parklet on the Ormeau Road in Belfast. Plans are afoot to develop outdoor mini-parks and green areas in Bishop Street.

She said: "A pop-up cycleway was delivered in June 2020 between the Harbour Square roundabout and the council offices through the riverfront car parks. My Department continues to work with the council and other stakeholders to identify measures for social distancing in Derry city centre.

"Officials are developing draft proposals for the Ferryquay Street, Diamond and Bishop Street areas. Those measures may include the repurposing of road space to improve social distancing where footways are narrow, the introduction of one-way streets and the removal of on-street parking to enhance provision for walking and cycling or the introduction of parklets.

"My Department is also progressing several walking and cycling measures in collaboration with the council. The more significant of those include the north-west greenway proposals for Derry and Strabane. Other walking and cycling measures are proposed at Strathfoyle in the Maydown area and along the Limavady Road from Ebrington. I am also providing funding for the construction of the Strathfoyle greenway and the Strabane north greenway."

Mrs. McLaughlin asked if she would commit to doing everything that you can to have the tourism sector COVID-ready for the summer tourism season.

The minister stated: "That agenda was important even before COVID. We need to be better at reimagining our space. A people-centred approach to place shaping is the right one. We all must work together to ensure that we reimagine our space so that people can, when it is safe to do so, come together to shop in our local businesses.

"We will be very much reliant on indigenous tourism. I give a commitment that I will continue to work with stakeholders across the North to ensure that we reimagine our spaces together and do what we can to support our businesses, in particular, at this difficult time."