Sinn Féin Councillor Elisha McCallion has called on key players including Derry City and Strabane Council to show vision and imagination in considering a City Centre regeneration strategy.
I believe that given the positive comments of support from both the Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard and the Finance Minister Mairtín Ó Muilleoir to assist economic growth in the North West that DCSDC should explore innovative development that would inject energy into the City Centre and take advantage of these Ministerial commitments.
Opportunities are presented through the proposed Transport Hub at Waterside Railway Station and Mairtín Ó Muilleoir’s proposals for shared space for public servants.
Our city centre retailers are struggling on a daily basis and more and more premises are lying vacant. Whilst rates and car parking are issues that need to be resolved, what is really required is innovative vision and imagination to bring increased footfall to the area.
The Visitor Information Centre (VIC) opposite Foyleside is relocating to Waterloo Square in the immediate future and I would support the idea that Ulsterbus moves to the present Visitor Centre location.
This would open up a tremendous opportunity to take advantage of the Finance Minister’s vision of all Public servants being housed in central publicly owned premises.
The availability of the old City Hotel site and Ulsterbus moving to the VIC site would provide the opportunity for construction of sufficient first class office space that would house all of DCSDC staff as well as any Assembly Departmental Civil Servants located in the City all under one roof.
Not only would bringing together thousands of Council and Civil Service staff in a single office block in Foyle Street be economically efficient it would give a major boost to local restaurants, shops and suppliers.
With the expected expansion of Magee, the relocation of all Council staff and business from its present Strand Road premises to Foyle Street would free up an ideally situated building that could be incorporated in the University plans. This could be facilitated either by outright purchase or long-term lease by the University.
These proposals would also assist the City Centre Management to deliver their vision of reinvigorating the City Centre with as little regulatory red tape as possible.
With imagination and vision I believe that these proposals could help address the concerns being voiced by those directly affected by the downturn in economic activity in the commercial heart of this City.