Universities welcome plan

An artist impression of how an educational facility could look.
An artist impression of how an educational facility could look.

Northern Ireland’s two universities have spoken of their excitement at the opportunity to collaborate on the proposed Foyle River Gardens project.

Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice-Chancellor and President of Ulster University said: “This exciting collaboration builds upon the combined strengths of both Universities and has the potential to deliver new jobs and stimulate economic growth for the North West. It also complements Ulster University’s expansion plans and our City Deal propositions.”

Professor Ian Greer, President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University, meanwhile, said the two universities “are collaborating to explore the potential of working with the Eden Project to develop a new world-class research project as part of the Foyle River Gardens Project.

“Planning is at an early stage, however, we are committed to progress this exciting proposal which will have significant benefits for the North West and Northern Ireland.”

Chairman of Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Environment & Regeneration Committee, SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly said the two universities working together on the project was “good news.”

SDLP Colr. Angela Dobbins said: “This would be a superb legacy to leave for our city, their children and our children’s children.

The  Eden Project near St Austell in Cornwall (Barry Batchelor/PA Wire)

The Eden Project near St Austell in Cornwall (Barry Batchelor/PA Wire)

“I am hopeful Derry will be given its rightful place and this will be a massive contribution to our city.”

Sinn Fein Colr. Sandra Duffy welcomed the social enterprises and apprenticeships inherent in it.

“There is so much in it, so much ambition to it. You wanted to have a ‘wow’ factor and it certainly does,” she said.

“It is brilliant to see Queen’s and Ulster University coming onboard and going to make use of the site.”

Colr. Duffy also asked where the £60m was expected to come from, to which Mr Toal replied that they were in discussions with the Strategic Investment Board, among others, and hoped to have the plans incorporated in to the City Deal proposal.

“We have done the Outline Business Cases and we have a 10 years business plan done. We have a huge amount of work completed,” he said.

He also clarified that the £60m did not include the cost of the university faculty.

DUP Colr. Graham Warke, meanwhile, described the presentation as “something positive for the city.”

“You have shown us what we can give our children and grandchildren. It’s absolutely amazing,” he maintained.