15 Aug 2022

Derelict Derry site must be 'brought to life' again following years of neglect

“Progress” is needed to redevelop a derelict site in Derry which has been at the centre of anti-social behaviour and controversial bonfires, local representatives have said. Meenan Square in the Bogside area of the city has been a problematic site for years and was at the centre of prolonged rioting in the summer of 2018. On August 15 last year poppy wreaths bearing the names of murdered police officers were burnt on top of a bonfire at Meenan Square. The Urban Villages initiative had been planning to develop the site “for a range of purposes” which would include commercial, community and social housing use, however, delays have thwarted any progress. Overseen by the Executive Office (TEO), the Urban Villages (UV) initiative is designed to improve good relations outcomes and develop thriving places where there has been a history of deprivation and community tension.  Apex has been lined up as their partner to deliver the project. Plans to redevelop Meenan Square were halted in September of last year after an “unknown purchaser” bought the lands. At the weekend a spokesperson for The Executive Office confirmed that discussions have commenced with a view to exploring options for the site. She said: “The Urban Villages team have identified the new owners of the Meenan Square complex, and discussions are underway with them to explore opportunities for the future development of the site.” ‘Hopeful’ Sinn Féin councillor for the Moor, Patricia Logue said she’s aware of discussions between UV, Apex and the owner but there has been little by way of an update. “This is a big project that will develop the area and I would really like to get over whatever hurdles are in the way to bring real change for the people living in that area because they deserve it rather than coming into the summer months again with no progress. “I would be hopeful to hear something in the next couple of months. “There’s a youth club there and young people in that area need a state-of-the-art facility because at the minute they’re working in poor conditions and don’t have proper heating, they’re having to use electric heaters.  They deserve better and so do the traders in that area, so I’d like to see progress to bring that whole area back to life again.” SDLP MLA Mark H. Durkan expressed the importance of statutory agencies “engaging” with the owner to support redevelopment “as much as possible.” “It’s good to see that the site has been secured and is looking better but their commitment has to be matched by public agencies.” Photo: Meenan Square site prior to last year's bonfire.

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