Council still exploring funding for flagship Maritime Museum project

An artist's impression of how the Maritime Museum will look when completed.
An artist's impression of how the Maritime Museum will look when completed.

Derry & Strabane Council has said it is exploring all funding avenues for the Maritime Museum as the deadlock at Stormont continues to impact on the release of money for such projects.

A spokesperson for the council yesterday confirmed that less than half the money needed for the long-awaited project has been fully committed and while a further £6.5m had been committed “in principle,” that funding has not yet been released.

The former hospital bulding at Ebrington will be the site of the new Maritime Museum.

The former hospital bulding at Ebrington will be the site of the new Maritime Museum.

It is now nine years since the completion of a feasibility study for the project, which aims to celebrate and showcase Derry and Lough Foyle’s historic maritime importance over the centuries, including its role as vital naval base during and after the Second World War.

The council said however that it was actively exploring options for the £11.25m Derry-Londonderry North Atlantic (DNA) project, which is to include the museum and an Archive Centre housed in the former Army Hospital site on Ebrington Square with galleries, archival reading rooms, dedicated learning spaces as well as a café, shop and other facilities for visitors.

“While no further funding for this project has been confirmed at this stage, plans are progressing behind the scenes to ensure the DNA project is ready for launch as soon as the necessary funds are made available,” a spokesperson said.

“Since planning permission was granted in November 2017, the plans for the DNA project have now progressed to the detailed design stage.

“The overall budget for the project is £11.25m, £4.5m has already been committed from council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Garfield Weston Foundation and Galewest Investments Ltd,” confirmed the spokesperson.

“Additional funding of a further £6.5m from Tourism NI, the NI Executive Office, and Department for Communities has been committed in principle.

“Council continues to explore all funding opportunities for this key strategic tourism facility, including the opportunities which will be afforded by a ‘City Deal’ announcement.”

The spokesperson confirmed a strategic review was completed in February which put forward a number of proposals “to bring it into the context of current strategies and to align it fully with the Central Riverfront Strategic Outline Case and the wider City Deal proposal.

“The museum remains a key attraction within the new Tourism Strategy for the City and District and Council will continue to work closely with all our partners in both government and the tourism industry to ensure its successful delivery,” she concluded.