End of an era for Institute FC as Riverside stadium in Derry to be demolished

It was the end of an era for Institute Football Club when planning permission was approved to demolish the Riverside Stadium and return the land to greenfield use this week.

By Gillian Anderson
Friday, 10th June 2022, 10:05 am

Members were told that approving demolition would be the ‘first step in assisting the club on their journey’ to find a suitable alternative in the Waterside area. 

The Drumahoe ground was destroyed in the floods of August 2017 and was unable to return after an infestation of Japanese Knotweed.

The team, which plays in the NIFL Championship, now hosts home fixtures at Derry City FC’s Brandywell.

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The football club applied to the council to have the stadium demolished in January 2022.

Members heard it is intended to reduce waste, recycle materials and salvage and re-use material on site where possible. The agent considers that the ‘quantum of material which can be salvaged is considerable and it is the aspiration of the applicant to reuse seating, floodlighting, dugouts and spectator stands’.

Mark McIvor spoke on behalf of the applicant Institute Football Club. He said: “In terms of the club they are a community club, obviously they have been operating from the application site at Drumahoe since 1980 and over that period of years they have been heavily invested building the stadium up from what was originally a grass pitch to what it is today with four stands.

“It was suitable for Irish League football and obviously the club were devastated by the floods in 2017 and failure thereafter to get suitable flood insurance.

“What that has effectively called into question is the future viability and sustainability of the club operating from that site so any further investment into this stadium was rendered impossible and the club made the difficult decision on the back of those circumstances and with one eye on protecting the long term viability of the club to look elsewhere within the city, particularly the Waterside area for a suitable alternative site.

“Getting this planning permission to commence demolition and return those lands back to their original use would be the first step in assisting the club with their journey. Currently they are sharing the Brandywell Stadium but ultimately they want to return to the Waterside area.”

Committee Chair, Councillor John Boyle spoke of the ‘degree of mixed emotions’ for followers of Institute Football Club before Councillor Sean Mooney  proposed the recommendation was accepted describing it as  ‘bitter sweet’.

Members agreed with the officer’s recommendation to approve the application.

Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter