07 Oct 2022

‘Unknown buyer’ halts redevelopment of derelict site in the Bogside area of Derry

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Plans to redevelop an empty site in the Bogside area of Derry have been halted after an ‘unknown purchaser’ bought the lands, it has emerged. The derelict lands at Meenan Square have for the last number of years been the source of anti-social behaviour in the area, having also been the site of a number of controversial bonfires. In the wake of the most recent bonfire on August 15, which followed six nights of continuous rioting in the area, local councillors proposed that a number of solutions to address the problem, including the demolition of buildings, now be looked at. The Urban Villages initiative had been planning to develop the site ‘for a range of purposes’ which would include a ‘community aspect’. 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. A representative from Urban Villages told the September meeting of the council’s Environment and Regeneration Committee that Apex Housing Ltd was lined up as their partner to deliver the project. However, the meeting was told that the site had been bought by an ‘unknown purchaser’. Urban Villages have asked the selling agent for contact with the individual to ‘establish the new owner’s intentions for the site’ and in the meantime they have been ‘developing a business case’. “We are doing what we can in the interim while we await the outcome of discussions,” the representative added. He added that it was ‘disappointing’ and ‘frustrating’ but the person has indicated that they are willing to have a ‘conversation’ with Urban Villages and they hope the owner will work with them with a view to developing the area. ‘Death trap’ Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell said people know the history of the site and the fact it had ‘one of the main bonfires in the city’. “The owner needs to be contacted to have the site secured immediately – it’s an absolute death trap at the moment,” he said. SDLP Councillor Brian Tierney said it was a timely presentation given that residents living in the area ‘had to put up with some of the worst anti-social behaviour’ in a long time over the summer. He said there has been ‘rumour after rumour’ during the summer about the identity of a possible buyer. Director of Environment and Regeneration, Karen Philips, said that efforts would be made to contact the new owner about securing the site and if that was not done ‘notices’ would be served on him as it

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