A UNIQUE public consultation event is set to take place where the public will be shown around a former police station by torchlight as part of a push for a new community centre.
The PSNI station at Eglinton was closed in April of last year after Northern Ireland Policing Board signed off on the closure of 21 stations across the north.
That in turn saw a nearby community hall lodge an expression of interest to transform the vacant station into drop-in centre that would cater for much needed youth provision in the area.
That has now gathered pace, with the Eglinton Community Hall having now also submitted a funding application to the Big Lottery’s the NI Spaces and Places Programme seeking a grant to re-design the vacant property.
A public consultation event will now take place on Saturday, February 1 where members of the public will be given the opportunity to contribute their views on the future of the site.
Those seeking to attend the consultation have been asked to bring a torch to the event, as it will include a tour of the now empty station, where the electricity has since been switched off.
A police sergeant will be on hand to take those present through the layout of the building, which will be limited to six people at a time due to safety reasons.
Speaking to the Derry News, Debbie Caulfield, Centre Manager, Eglinton Community Hall, said that she had a number of meetings with the PSNI about their plans, while Derry City Council had also given its backing for the new centre.
“This facility is badly needed because we’re simply running out of room here at the centre, and the lease at the Flame Drop-In Youth facility could soon be coming to an end,” she said.
“We have an architect from Groundwork NI coming out today (Thursday) to look at the site in terms of feasibility as to what we could do with it.
“Of course, this is all dependent on what funding we receive, but we’re delighted with the amount of support out there for this, and that backing we’ve received from Derry City Council.”
Among the options being explored for the former station are the inclusion of a MUGA (Multi Use Games Area), a dedicated youth drop-in centre and a number of community meeting rooms.
Commenting, Paul Hughes of the Enagh Youth Forum (EYF), who is standing as an independent candidate in the forthcoming council elections, said a new youth facility would help address the issue of anti-social behaviour in the Eglinton area.
“Giving the current levels of anti-social this building should now be made available for the community and used to support local young people through providing a drop in centre, structured and supervised positive diversionary activities, apprenticeship programmes, social enterprise ideas development hub,” he said.
The consultation event will take place at the former police station at 11am on Saturday, February 1.
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