Led by Derry City and Strabane District Council, the Waterside Shared Village project will include a state of the art hub building and sports complex and aims to build trust and reconciliation between the two communities by creating a safe place for residents to engage in activities together.
The community hub will include a hall that can be transformed into four meeting or training rooms, a special youth zone, a community kitchen, a community office and a suite of sports changing rooms.
The area around the community hub will comprise a 3G and grass sports pitch, a cricket training area and tennis courts.
Welcoming the development, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle, explained that the project will deliver a wide range of programmes aimed at building a closer relationship between the two communities in the Waterside.
“I am delighted that our application to the SEUPB for €8m of funding to finance this project has been successful and the public can look forward to accessing a state of the art community facility when it is completed.
“Community groups and the Neighbourhood Partnership in the Irish Street and Top of the Hill areas have worked strategically together with Council to achieve this major funding which will transform the interface area.
“The Shared project will deliver a range of cross-community programmes for all ages including sports programmes, after-schools clubs, summer schemes, youth programmes, early year’s programmes and a series of festivals.”
Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council, John Kelpie, added:
“The Waterside Shared Village Project is a multi-faceted shared space facility that has been identified in the Inclusive Strategic Growth Plan as a key strategic capital project for our Council area.
“The community buildings and sports facilities within the project will offer local people state of the art provision and encourage greater participation in recreational and sporting activities.
“The project can act as a hub for residents of both sides of the interface to interact and engage in activities together in a safe and neutral space, building mutual trust and understanding.”
Niree McMorris, a spokesperson for the Irish Street Community Association added: “We are delighted that the approval of funding from the SEUPB will make the vision of creating a Shared Village for the Waterside a reality.
“The project will regenerate the former Clondermot School site and provide much needed community facilities for residents in the Irish Street and Top of the Hill areas as well as the wider Waterside and Council areas.
“When completed the community building will act as a hub for people to take part in a wide range of cross community programmes.
“It will be a facility that can help build reconciliation by bringing people from all backgrounds together and allowing them to engage and interact with each other in a shared space.”
Hillcrest Trust welcomed the announcement from the SEPUB: “The approval of funding for the Waterside Shared Village offers a fantastic opportunity to consolidate cross community relationships within the Waterside and change the physical landscape of the area.
“The project will plan, design and deliver an exciting range of programmes to residents in the Top of the Hill, Irish Street and Greater Waterside areas.
“The concept of a Shared Village will allow people to build new relationships and renew old friendship through joint educational, sport, recreational programmes.
“The Shared Village will be a visible manifestation of the shared future which the EU PEACE IV Programme aims to support.
“Hillcrest Trust is committed to cross community engagement and leadership within the Waterside area and we look forward to seeing the positive and lasting outcomes which the Shared Village will offer to our local community”.
Welcoming the project Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), which manages the PEACE IV Programme, said: “Whilst many different communities across the region live side-by-side they still remain deeply divided. This polarisation is also unfortunately passed down from one generation to the next, creating a cycle of mistrust and suspicion.
“The Waterside Shared Village project will create a new safe space where people from different backgrounds are given a unique opportunity to mix with and learn from each other. By doing so they will be able to challenge some of their own personal misconceptions, start to build trust and engage in meaningful reconciliation.
“The project is one of a number of shared space projects, funded under the EU’s PEACE IV Programme, that will have a hugely transformative impact upon the local communities in which they are located on both sides of the border,” she added.
In addition to the Waterside Shared Village project, Donegal County Council in conjunction Derry City and Strabane District Council, has developed and submitted an application to the same SEUPB Shared Spaces Programme for a new cross-border cross-community Riverine Park on the banks of the River Foyle at Lifford and Strabane.
This major shared spaces application remains under consideration, and DCC (as lead partner) along with DCSDC are continuing to work actively with the funder SEUPB, as part of the determination process.