Work to regenerate the historic Walled Garden site at St Columb’s Park House into a major shared community resource is now under way.
Contractor Willie Doherty Construction are leading the £260,000 EU PEACE IV funded project, which includes the development of the historic path network at the site and the rebuilding of the Walled Garden enclosure.
The aim is to create a new shared space for use by all sections of society.
The project has received over £370,000 in external funding through the EU’s Peace IV Programme, funding that will ensure the completion of the Walled Garden and a supporting programme of peace building activity.
Mayor John Boyle said the project would be a welcome addition to the park’s existing infrastructure.
“The redevelopment of the Walled Garden is a key element of the wider St Columb’s Park Regeneration Plan which was presented to Council May 2015,” he said.
“The wide vision is to create new office/ training accommodation at St Columb’s Park House and create a new innovative community growing space on the site of the former heli-pad site, called Acorn Farm.
“That vision includes the replacement of the Charley Dimmock Garden with a formal Lavender Garden and the transformation of the disused heli-pad into a community growing educational resource.
“I look forward to the completion of work on this site which will enhance this stunning parkland area and further improve the Park’s historic, cultural and landscape amenity, creating a shared space that will benefit the entire community.
“I would like to congratulate all the project stakeholders from Council, St Columb’s Park House and the Acorn Fund for their collaborative work in bringing the project to this key stage.”
Welcoming the start of work on the site, Gina McIntyre CEO of the SEUPB said: “Over the years the European Union has visibly invested in the development of Derry-Londonderry to improve the lives of its citizens.
“This is evident from the physical infrastructure and also the investment in community development. This latest project will redevelop the historic Walled Garden so that it can act as a focal point for positive cross-community contact that will bring people together.”
Sharon Doherty, St Columb’s Park House, said the completed project will be another asset in their reconciliation work in the local community.
“The restoration of the Walled Garden is the first step in the regeneration of St Columbs Park and indeed the grounds of St Columbs Park House.
“We are excited to be involved in a number of new initiatives, including a Community Hub and the restoration of the formal gardens to the front of the House.
“St Columb’s Park House, as a Peace and Reconciliation Centre located in the heart of the Park, see these developments as vital to the continuing work we do within the park and local community.
“Our partnership with Council, SEUPB and Acorn Farm is crucial in bringing these exciting projects to fruition for the benefit of all park users.”
Acorn Fund Development Officer Shauna Kelpie added: “The Acorn Fund has been a keen partner in the redevelopment of St Columb’s Park given that health, well being and sustainability are crucial societal issues.
“Through the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, the Acorn Fund connects people who care to causes that matter.
“A beacon project such as this will help to raise community awareness of the important role food production plays in the health and well-being of our communities.”
The work at the site is highlighted as a priority capital project in Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Parks Development Programme and the Strategic Growth Plan which commits to protect and promote our natural and built heritage assets and develop our parks and green spaces.