The ugliest building in Derry is to get a £1.8m makeover ahead of the City of Culture year.
The Ulster Bank in Waterloo Place has been earmarked for a facelift as well as internal restorations following an announcement by Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland yesterday morning of a new funding package.
Mr McCausland was in Derry to monitor progress on a number of DSD-funded projects. He said he was aware that with the 2013 UK City of Culture celebrations just months away, changes needed to be mad to the building which has been consistently branded and “eyesore” and “Derry’s ugliest building” in local council meetings.
“It’s a building that I understand attracts some comment. We need to get it looking as good as possible for next year.
“There is a £1.9m scheme going ahead there and through an Urban Development grant we are putting almost £0.5m into that.
“When you look right across all the projects it is quite a substantial investment.
“It’s one thing getting a briefing paper on them with the facts and figures, but it’s so much better to come and actually see on the ground and understand what’s happening in the city.”
SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan, who sits on the Stormont DSD Committee, welcomed the funding: “The Ulster Bank building is an eyesore and I look forward to it being brought to the same vibrant standard as many other buildings in the city centre and the recently refurbished streetscape of Waterloo Place.
“With the onset of the 2013 celebrations and into the future it is paramount that we have a city centre that is aesthetically pleasing and is welcoming for visitors and local people alike. Coupled with the glazed canopy roof at the Craft Village, hopefully these will have a knock-on effect boosting business in the city.”
The funding announcement followed renewed calls for the building to be demolished.