Chairman Bill Anderson hopeful Institute can be part of new Clooney Masterplan

Just like the weather things are starting to heat up off the pitch at Institute.

Sunday, 25th July 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Sunday, 25th July 2021, 7:34 pm
Bill Anderson, Institute chairman.

Chairman Bill Anderson admits talks between the club, Derry City and Strabane District Council and the Department for Social Development (DSD) over the possibility of relocating to Clooney Park West are continuing.

Anderson also confirmed that discussions are also underway with the YMCA about releasing funds following a settlement with the insurance company for the Riverside Stadium as plans have been unveiled to demolish their former home at Drumahoe, which was destroyed in a flood in 2017.

The public are being given the chance to have their say on plans to demolish the Riverside Stadium, which is located beside the River Faughan and which had been home to ’Stute since 1980 until it was severely damaged by floods four years ago.

Institute’s Riverside Stadium, which now has plans unveiled for it to be demolished. Picture by JPJPhotography

Now, plans have been put forward to knock down all the buildings and stands at the ground and return the land to a green field site. As part of this process, a public consultation has been launched.

It will last for two weeks to give people an opportunity to put forward their views on the proposals.

Anderson has now confirmed that monies from their insurance claim will be used to both demolish part of the Riverside Stadium and also help the Waterside club build a new stadium.

“We have verbally agreed to an insurance settlement with the insurance company,” he insisted.

“We will use part of that to demolish the old stadium at Drumahoe and also use part of that money to relocate whatever we can from the Riverside Stadium to a new site, which hopefully will be Clooney Park West and then we’ll be looking for additional funding for the new stadium.

“Unfortunately the problem we are having at the minute is that the history of it is that the whole site is legally owned by the YMCA and they are jointly named on the insurance policy, so while they weren’t the stadium owners they were the landowners and the YMCA currently have not agreed to allow the insurance money to be released and we are currently trying to resolve that issue.”

A spokesperson for MCI Planning, which is managing the demolition proposal, said they would welcome people’s views.

“We are proposing to transform land currently occupied by the Riverside Stadium by removing all physical structures and concrete hardstanding from the site’s surface and undertaking remediation of the three invasive plant species.

“On completion of these works the land will be top-soiled and sown with grass seed and returned to its former use as greenfield land as per the designation in the extant Derry Area Plan 2011.

“At this point the Riverside Stadium will cease to exist and the land returned to its legal owner, the YMCA.”

The MCI spokesperson said the demolition cannot proceed until a full planning application setting out the precise detail and approach to the works is approved.

“The information submitted along with the application will be assessed by statutory agencies and Derry City and Strabane District Council.

“If the proposal is deemed satisfactory and planning permission is approved, works can then commence. The project team has undertaken preliminary site investigations and analysis that have informed their approach.

“We have also undertaken an informal preliminary application discussion with Derry City and Strabane District Council. The approach to the demolition is to recycle and reuse what is possible from the existing Riverside Stadium.

“Recognising the site’s ASSI designation our team will sensitively remove the structures off site whilst causing no environmental damage or impact on the natural surroundings.

“The demolition works will respect the local environment and will be informed by a construction method statement agreed in advance with Derry City and Strabane District Council and Statutory Consultees.

“A professional contractor will be used to carry out the demolition works.

“We now want to hear the views of the local community and stakeholders before we consider the feedback and consider how this relates to the proposals.”

Anderson feels that talks will continue with the Council about relocating to part of the Clooney Masterplan, and those plans can be seen on the Derry City and Strabane District Council website.

“There are on-going discussions with Council and DSD about our potential relocation but those things are not resolved yet,” he added.

“These things do take a long, long time but it’s out for public consultation at the minute and people can go onto the Council website and you’ll be able to see the Clooney Master Plan, which includes a community club being based at Clooney Park West.

“Now whilst those discussion are ongoing we are hopeful it would give us an opportunity to have the club cited in the heart of the Waterside where most of our supporters are from and it would make it acceptable for the majority of people living in the Waterside, plus any fans that we have based in the cityside could easily be able to access Clooney Park West via the Peace Bridge.”