A Derry community worker has urged everyone with an interest in the future of ‘Prehen Boat House’ to get along to the public consultation event as he warned that the facility must not be privatised.
Paul Hughes was speaking ahead of public consultation taking place today, Wednesday March 6, from 4pm to 9pm at The Loughs Agency Building.
Mr Hughes said it was important that people get along to the ‘Have Your Say Event’ as it provides people with an opportunity to outline to council their views regarding the future development of the boathouse.
Mr. Hughes said the re-development of Prehen Boathouse was long over due, coming more than a decade after Council reassumed ownership of the building back in 2008 from the North West Regional College.
“Now eleven years later Derry City and Strabane District Council have finally confirmed that £600,000 of funding has now been secured to build the new pontoon complete with supporting changing and access works,” he revealed.
“This is good news and these works will certainly go some way to helping to restore activity at the upper part of the river and I’m sure will be well received by the Foyle Paddlers Canoe Club and City of Derry Rowing Club. Hopefully now Council will take the next step and redevelop the building in line with the views and wishes of local people and of course the Foyle Paddlers and the city’s oldest sporting club - City of Derry Rowing Club who have and continue to provide a wide range of outdoor educational and recreational activities at the site.
Mr Hughes said that promises have been made before regarding the site, and that plans have been discussed and presented before.
“Consultations have taking place before,” he said. “Riverside strategies over the years have come and go. This time, it’s time to make it happen!” he said, adding:
“There is much more work to be done to bring this great building back into public use. The redevelopment of this site, I believe is key to the regeneration of the River Foyle and it should be a public building that serves the needs of the local community; linked into other projects that are planned for the river including the ‘River Foyle Gardens’ and ‘Our Future Foyle’ as there is great synergy with both these projects.
“This project will not only benefit the Waterside and City of Derry but it will also involve Strabane too. The River Foyle has great potential. Imagine for example being able to jet ski all the way up to Lifford! This is what we should also be thinking about! Its time to help bring the River Foyle to life.
Referring to discussions at a Derry City & Strabane District Council Governance & Strategic Planning Committee meeting last November, Mr Hughes said: “The fact that Council is now at least engaging and consulting with the public is welcomed news but I am concerned and I am sure others will be to on learning that Derry City & Strabane District Council have already stated that “consideration being giving to the potential for wider private sector led development input and future programming”.
“This is something that Council should clarify at next weeks public consultation event. Prehen Boat House Is Not For Sale!
“I am calling on Derry City & Strabane District Council to review current ‘access provision’ to the River Foyle. Council must now listen to the views of people, clubs and communities wishes for this key site and invest in the redevelopment of Prehen Boathouse. In addition to this Council should carry out an immediate review into current ‘access points’ along the river and should carry out a feasibility study to improve access onto the river at Culmore Point to better accommodate Lough Foyle Yacht Club and unlock future potential for the river.”