Londonderry £27m transport hub approved

Image source, Google
Image caption,
The old Waterside train station was built in the 1800s

Controversial plans to redevelop a former Victorian railway station in Londonderry have been approved.

Translink's £27m proposal will see the development of a regional transport hub on the site of the old Waterside station.

Derry City and Strabane District Council planning committee approved the plans on Wednesday evening.

The council said the plans would create a modern transport centre for the north-west region.

The vote was passed by nine in favour, two against. Three councillors were unable to vote.

Image source, Translink
Image caption,
Critics argue the redevelopment does not make best use of the old station

The old station was identified as the preferred site for the transport hub after a public consultation.

The redevelopment will also see the current Londonderry station demolished to create a greenway link to the city centre via the Peace Bridge.

It is hoped the new centre will encourage commuters to use public transport and help boost the local economy.

Transport lobby group Into The West had petitioned the council to reject the plans.

'No imagination'

Campaigners argued the redevelopment did not make best use of the old station, in part because trains were stationed outside the building.

They also take issue with the building being separated from the Foyle riverfront by railway lines and a planned car park.

Jim McBride from the group said the decision "showed no imagination and is a second-best solution for the city".

"This is not the end of the road. Nearly 3,000 people have backed our campaign - 3,000 people can't be wrong," he added.

However, Translink's John Glass said it was "a good thing for Derry city and the north west" and that it would be "a step change for public transport".

"We would like to begin work as soon as possible but we have to look at planning conditions so it will be three months before we get started on site," said Mr Glass.

Image source, Translink
Image caption,
The redevelopment will create a greenway link to the city centre via the Peace Bridge

Sinn Féin councillor Christopher Jackson, who proposed that the motion be accepted, said he was "delighted".

"This is a major development for the city and the north west region as a whole," he said.

"We have seen decades of neglect of infrastructure in this part of the Ireland and this a major step forward."

SDLP Councillor Tina Gardiner voted against the motion.

"I understand the importance of developing the train station however I feel it was a poor proposal for the city," she said.

"The fact that the trains won't go into the building isn't honouring the Victorian heritage of the building."

The multimillion-pound redevelopment is being funded by the EU with support from Stormont's Department for Infrastructure and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in the Republic of Ireland.