Derry heritage at risk 14 March 2012
The Walled City Partnership have questioned the commitment to maintaining the built heritage of Derry/Londonderry after a warning that around 100 historic buildings in the heart of Londonderry are at risk of being lost.
They have also questioned the need for new buildings in a city with “thousands of square feet of vacant floor space in our existing buildings”. There are up to 100, and perhaps more, listed and non–listed buildings which are at risk in the city’s three conservation areas — the Historic City, The Clarendon Street area and Magee area.
The hard–hitting message was delivered in a presentation by the partnership before a meeting of Derry City Council’s Development Committee.
The partnership has overseen the repair of a cluster of 19 listed and unlisted buildings in Waterloo Street, Shipquay Street, Magazine Street and Castle Street to date. The projects included the flagship Northern Counties Hotel, which now houses several businesses and has helped regenerate Guildhall Square. A further 31 buildings are also eligible for funding under Phase II of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Townscape Heritage Initiative, being delivered by the partnership.
Mary Kerrigan, a spokesperson for the Partnership, said “Our built environment is an expression of the culture and people of the place. It informs identity. The built heritage is the legacy of past generations to us and we are the custodians of that for future generations and our care or lack of care for the built heritage will be seen in the appearance of the buildings. It will reflect on us and our culture.”
Environment Minister Alex Attwood has previously stated that visitors who come to see built heritage stay twice as long and spend twice as much.
Ms Kerrigan also warned that the city’s regeneration plan — developed by over 1,000 experts from bodies across the city — seemed light on detail about restoring historic buildings. “I’m not clear where heritage has a place in the One Plan,” she said. “I have a sense that heritage is not seen as progressive. We can’t create buildings like this again.”
The Walled City Partnership was set up in 2002 to establish the Town Heritage Initiative for Derry.
Buildings at risk include: Abercorn factory, Carlisle Circus; Foyle Valley Railway Museum; Presbyterian churches at Strand Road and Great James Street; Cathedral Primary School; Gate Lodge to Aberfoyle House; Old boundary walls, Clarendon Street; Crawford Square Park & boundary wall; dwelling, Lawrence Hill; terraced housing, Artillery, Harvey and Fountain Streets
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