Place Partnering Diagnostic Visit Derry-Londonderry 23-24 April 2012 The Academy of Urbanism | Place Partnering | Derry~Londonderry |
Contents 1. Background 03 2. Context 06 3. Diagnosis 08 4. Recommendations 22 5. Apendix 1 & 2 26
The Academy of Urbanism is an autonomous, politically independent, cross-sector organisation formed in 2006 to expand urban discourse. The Academy brings together an active and diverse group of thinkers, decision-makers and practitioners involved in the social, cultural, economic, political and physical development of our villages, towns and cities. The Academy seeks to identify, learn from and promote best practice in urbanism. For more information please visit academyofurbanism.org.uk
The Academy of Urbanism | Place Partnering | Derry~Londonderry |
1. Background 1.1. The Academy’s Place Partnering programme offers places selected as finalists in the Academy’s Urbanism Awards the expertise and experience of Academicians to help them tackle obstacles to longer term and broader success. It is offered as a diagnostic service, to help, encourage and challenge the diverse interests that influence the success of places to recognise and tackle the issues and opportunities that are of greatest importance. (A copy of the prospectus for participating places is at Appendix 1.) 1.2. The visit to Derry-Londonderry was associated with the Academy’s Annual Congress, held in Derry-Londonderry in May 2012. The Department of Culture and Leisure (DCAL) provided grant funding to cover the cost to run the place partnering diagnostic visit. DCAL’s Ministerial Advisory Group on Architecture and the Built Environment (MAG) assisted and participated in the visit. Additional supporting sponsorship was provided by Inner City Trust; Derry-Londonderry City Council and ILEX, the URC responsible for urban regeneration projects in Derry-Londonderry. 1.3. The primary purpose of the exercise was to help the people of Derry-Londonderry build on their success in receiving the Academy’s Great Town Award 2012, by identifying potential obstacles to longer term and broader success. The secondary purpose was to provide an insight for Government and local representatives into methods of enquiry that may help the new local authorities which come into being in 2015, to take up their new responsibilities for planning. 1.4. The brief for the visit and the breadth of participation was co-ordinated in advance of the visit by Mary Kerrigan, locally based MAG Expert Advisor, and Steven Bee, AoU Director. It was agreed locally by the MAG Chair, Arthur Acheson, and secretariat at DCAL, Planning NI, DerryLondonderry City Council, and ILEX. 1.5. The visit was held on 23 and 24 April 2012. The Academy Panel comprised a chairman, a rapporteur, and three panel members. All gave their time free of charge. They met a total of 32 representatives from the Derry-Londonderry City Council, ILEX Urban Regeneration Company, APEX Housing Association, Walled City Partnership, Foyle Civic Trust, Inner City Trust, City Centre Initiative, Chamber of Commerce, Rathmor Centre, Holywell Trust, MAG members, PSNI, DoE (NI), DSD, DRD Roads Service, Into the West, Derry-Londonderry Well Women, Transition DerryLondonderry, City Traders Forum other representatives of local community, business, amenity organisations and other interests. 1.6. MAG members observed the process, and PLACE – the architecture centre for NI – recorded the event on the first day and will provide a summary transcript. The full list people involved is recorded in Appendix Two. The presentations from, and questioning by the Panel of, all those who participated was in open session. In the interests of continuing open discussion, opinions and positions are not directly attributed, and this report reflects the tone and intention of what was said by all.
1.7. The conversations we had were friendly and helpful. They were also rigorous and challenging. Panel members, over more than 12 hours intensive engagement with Derry-Londonderry and Government representatives, gained a reasonable and sufficient understanding of circumstances to offer this diagnosis of the relationship between the various issues, perspectives and objectives, and the obstacles to long term success for the community as a whole that should be addressed. The conduct and productivity of the Panel sessions were widely acknowledged by those involved at the time, and we trust this report will be similarly received. 1.8. In addition to incorporating the comments of local participants in the diagnostic visit, this report also includes, where relevant, the further exploration of issues in the workshop sessions of the Academyâ€™s Annual Congress held in Derry-Londonderry two weeks after the Panel visit, on 9-11 May 2012. These sessions were informed by the topics the Panel considered the most important and pressing. 1.9. This report has been finalised in the light of further comments received from participants on the draft report circulated in July 2012. The Panel is aware that not all participants agree with all of its analysis or its suggestions, and that there may be some disappointment or disquiet as a result. We must emphasise that this is not a consultancy report, and that the intention was not to attempt to achieve a consensus, or to accommodate all local opinion. We offer the combined assessment of an independent group of professionals with experience in fields relevant to the future success of the city of Derry-Londonderry, based on what we heard and saw. It is for local interests to compare our perspective with their own and othersâ€™ and to decide whether or not to pursue our recommendations. 1.10. It is not for the Panel to support or reject the One Plan, political manifestos or business plans, but to offer a fresh perspective that might stimulate useful action in a place that seems to us to struggle to make sustained economic, social and environmental progress. There were some concerns that we had ignored or dismissed some important local issues, however, and we have tried to clarify our position accordingly. It is inevitable that we will not have understood the depth of some of the issues, but such greater understanding among others does not yet seem to have secured the future success of the City, and what might seem radical suggestions just might unlock trapped potential.
The Academy of Urbanism | Place Partnering | Derry~Londonderry |
Physical 2.1. The Panel focussed its attention on the historic core of Derry-Londonderry on the west bank of the Foyle, on both sides of the town wall, and the former Ebrington Barracks site on the east bank. We took into account the wider context of the City, and local participants referred to the role of the city centre to the Northwest region as a whole. 2.2. The Panel had received a copy of the One Plan, prepared for ILEX, and was familiar with its 11 main points prior to arrival. We had also reviewed the Development Plan and other information relating to Derry-Londonderry. We did not explore in any detail the Foyle Gateway area, or the sites for housing development identified in the wider area. 2.3. The Panel had a guided tour of the city centre, including the adjacent parts of the Bogside, the City Walls, the Peace Bridge and Ebrington Barracks. We also toured the wider area of the City, in particular the Bogside, Creggan and Queens Quay areas. Community 2.4. The progress made in rebuilding the City and the community in the wake of the disturbances of the 1970s, 80s and 90s was one of the reasons why the City received the Academyâ€™s Great Town Award. The enthusiasm of the agencies and individuals involved is remarkable and heartening. It is one of the features that are likely to attract visitors and hopefully investors in the future. 2.5. The Troubles had exacerbated the economic disadvantage wrought by Derry-Londonderryâ€™s 20th century history and its peripheral geographical location. The efforts to restore social and economic wellbeing since the Good Friday Agreement have stalled, inevitability, as a result of the economic downturn. Overcoming generations of enmity between communities is difficult enough in a context of growing prosperity; when times remain hard for a long time, the tendency to resort to past loyalties and prejudices must be a risk. The local representatives that the Panel met, while well aware of this risk, were united in their optimism for the future, and in their commitment to initiatives that ensure that the whole community moves forward together.
The representatives that the Panel met...were united in their optimism for the future, and in their commitment to initiatives that ensure that the whole community moves forward together.
The Academy of Urbanism | Place Partnering | Derry~Londonderry |
The origins of the City are not just remarkable, they are still part of the Cityâ€™s communal consciousness, four hundred years after its foundation
3.1. The Panel received diverse presentations on the first afternoon from different perspectives. Some were highly structured, technical and focused; others broad-brush, heartfelt, and personal. All helped the Panel to take multiple bearings on the issues raised. We were able to test the accuracy of our emerging perspectives in conversation with individuals that evening, and with local representatives together on the morning of the second day. 3.2. The presentations were clustered to ensure a good representation of interests during the time available. Only the education cluster was unrepresented on the day, which was unfortunate, as the Panel concluded that this was a crucial topic (see later). 3.3. The Panel’s diagnosis does not directly reflect the cluster of interested parties, but draws common threads and conflicts that we think should be addressed if the best use is to be made of human and financial resources. 3.4. We present our diagnosis of the current chances of long term success for Derry-Londonderry under five main headings: Cultural legacy; the historic core; the River; Ebrington; and project co-ordination. 3.5. Cultural legacy 3.5.1. The Great Town Award, and the selection of Derry-Londonderry as the 2013 UK Capital of Culture, demonstrate the increasingly widespread recognition of Derry-Londonderry’s distinctive history, culture and physical legacy. The origins of the City are not just remarkable, they are still part of the City’s communal consciousness, four hundred years after its foundation. It was a model on which many of the early settlements of the New World were based, and has shaped the destiny, for good and ill, of millions of people across the world since. 3.5.2. While this should instil a sense of pride and self-confidence in the community of Derry-Londonderry, it remains a source of division between the successors of those who came and those who were already here in 1613. Historic places elsewhere in the British Isles, often born out of conflict and dissent, have a detached view of their history, recognising the relevance of past conflict to their heritage, but no longer tied to the enmity that generated it. As time allows the people of Derry-Londonderry as a whole to move away from the shadow of oppression, occupation and exploitation and achieve this detachment, the Panel felt that the community will be able to acknowledge and value the heritage of the plantation town that survives in the walls, the historic buildings they enclose, and the buildings of quality in the conservation areas around the city centre. These are no longer tools of repression, and may in future be used, enjoyed and valued as part of a shared heritage, in the same way that Egypt can celebrate the Pyramids, and the United Kingdom its Norman castles, without having to resent the slavery and domination that created them. 3.5.3. As the City has expanded, there has been an inevitable demand for services to meet the needs of the expanding city, and district centres provide community and commercial services locally. Historic sectarian differences have influenced the location of these community facilities – health, education and welfare, and social housing – leading to a geographical distribution that would be counter-intuitive if efficient provision of services were the only criterion. The Panel felt that continuing such special consideration is likely to perpetuate the community’s consciousness of such differences in the long term, and slow the progress of distancing itself from the Troubles.
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3.5.4. One of the positive outcomes of efforts in recent decades is the growing social enterprise sector emerging as the City finds new ways of overcoming economic and historic disadvantages. The Panel considered this modern example of resilience to be founded on sound principles and offering an example for other places to study and learn from. 3.5.5. Neighbourhood-based initiatives have however diverted attention and investment away from the city centre. There has been a remarkable rebuilding programme in recent years, but the city centre still needs attention (see later). The Panel understood the historic associations of the walled city and its location on the west bank of the Foyle in what became the predominantly Catholic side of the town. We did not feel however that this was sufficient reason to divert future investment elsewhere. The historic city centre has been and should be the centre for the whole community, and promoted as such. This makes economic as well as social sense. If the economy is to grow by attracting new investment and visitors, they will expect convenient and co-located features and attractions, easily accessible and well-serviced. 3.5.6. Current proposals associated with the City of Culture propose to move some facilities to the Waterside (east bank) side of the River Foyle, to reduce the perception among its predominantly Protestant residents that they are neglected and excluded. While this may be historically the case, the moving of facilities like the Maritime Museum, and the location of City of Culture facilities outside the city centre will divert resources and lose the benefits of co-location. The Panel understood the reasons for relocating the City of Culture offices from the former Northern Counties Hotel at Magazine Gate but we felt that this area should remain an important focal point for public activities and would encourage further efforts to engage the whole community in the long term public purpose of Guildhall Square and the buildings around it. 3.5.7. While the plans for next year’s events are progressing, little has yet been implemented. Changing plans now will be difficult and risky, but the Panel was firmly of the view that existing and new permanent cultural facilities should be concentrated in and around the historic city centre – that is the walled city and its immediate environs on the city side. The Panel saw vacant buildings that could be available for short term or permanent reuse. For example, half of the Supervalu supermarket in Waterloo Place is vacant, as is St Columb’s Hall, and there are likely to be others that are underused. The Panel could see the value of the Ebrington Barracks site for large scale events during the City of Culture year, but we did not think it was a suitable location for the main City of Culture venue (see later). 3.5.8. The Panel were surprised that among the ideas being worked up for celebrating the region’s culture, food did not seem to play a part. It may be that the lush pastures of the region produce mainly dairy products, but throughout Europe, regional food produce and dishes are becoming an important component of local identity and tourism marketing. Searching out, or indeed creating, DerryLondonderry-specific foodstuffs and dishes, and promoting high standards of catering will be essential if higher visitor interest is to be attracted and sustained.
3.6. The historic city centre 3.6.1. The fascinating, unique and difficult history of Derry-Londonderry is represented in the layout, development and use of the historic city centre â€“ the walled city and its immediate surroundings. The defensible location on the hill on an island in the Foyle is the reason for its existence, and the benefits and constraints of that are still evident today. The western channel â€“ the Bogside â€“ may have been drained and developed, but the main channel of the fast flowing river provides a dramatic setting for the historic settlement that was praised in the Eighteenth Century, and could yet be again. Much of the historic fabric of the City, in particular the city walls, are associated with past occupation, domination and conflict. That is no different from most European cities, many of which have suffered far greater abuse and destruction than Derry-Londonderry. Whatever their origin and original purpose, these heritage assets are not only available to be enjoyed by the local community as a whole, but are the basis of the local distinctiveness of Derry-Londonderry that will prove increasingly popular to tourists seeking new places and cultural stimulation. 3.6.2. The people to whom the Panel spoke were very clear and open about the nature and complexity of community relations. We agreed that if the city as a whole can be similarly open, and acknowledge the differing interpretations put on the significance of places and events; if it can present these for locals and visitors to reflect on and appreciate, the troubled history might be laid to rest more quickly. The commitment to peace seems to be an important feature of modern life in Derry-Londonderry, despite the occasional reverberations of past anger. The Peace Bridge is an important contribution to the heritage of the City, and seems to be successful, both symbolically and in its usefulness. There is great potential to push this combination of symbolism and accessibility further. 3.6.3. The western landfall of the Peace Bridge is inconveniently obstructed by the main road along the riverside. The Panel could see no reason why the pedestrian crossing should not be relocated to link the Bridge to the Guildhall Square, immediately. The link up Whittaker Street and Shipquay Street to The Diamond should be one of the liveliest routes in the City, particularly with the crossconnection from Castle Street across Shipquay Street through the Richmond Centre to the Foyleside Centre.
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3.6.4. The Panelâ€™s concern at the compromising of Harbour Square by traffic was reinforced at a Congress workshop. Discussions involving local and visiting Academicians concluded that this historic point of connection between the walled city and the river, later enlarged, had great symbolic as well as physical potential. It should be possible to reduce traffic capacity and improve pedestrian access without compromising the smooth functioning of the City, and create capacity for cultural, leisure and entertainment uses. The Congress considered examples of how traffic and pedestrian integration had been achieved throughout Europe that were widely considered adaptable to the Cityâ€™s circumstances. 3.6.5. The Panel was told of plans to use the Harbour Office in Harbour Square for Council Membersâ€™ accommodation, adjacent to the refurbished Guildhall, and plans for the permanent relocation of the Maritime Museum (displaced from the Guildhall and temporarily located in the Railway Museum) in the historic buildings of Ebrington Barracks (briefly used as HMS Ferret 3 during the Second World War). We felt that such relocation would dilute the cultural offer of the city centre to the general detriment of its attractiveness to visitors. The generally modest and small scale buildings of the Barracks do not appear well-suited to museum use, and we were attracted to suggestions that the Harbour Offices and the former Custom House in Shipquay Street could offer more suitable accommodation in a better location. 3.6.6. Such uses could strengthen the status of Guildhall Square and Harbour Square, as a substantial cultural centre at the western end of the Peace Bridge, balancing future complementary facilities to be provided on the Barracks site at its eastern end (see later). Accommodation for the new Local Authority would be more suitably located in a specially commissioned new building, reflecting the political commitment to the future and setting a standard for new interventions in the city centre as the generally mediocre buildings of recent decades are replaced over time.
The Panel heard of a significant unmet demand for housing for single people, and the historic centre could be a popular location for many of these
3.6.7. Guildhall Square has been improved recently, and now provides an important public space, but it has no convenient access to the City walls that run alongside it. 3.6.8. This is an important opportunity for a new intervention. There have been many changes to the historic walls over the centuries, and these reflect the evolution of the city. The City of Culture is an appropriate opportunity to create a new access on to the wall, from the outside. This would add to the attractiveness of the Guildhall Square and the Guildhall which will once more become an important public building, for local people and visitors, once its refurbishment is complete. This would symbolise the new openness of the City, and this area in particular, to all. It could also symbolise the importance of the historic city to the community of the Waterside, now connected by the Peace Bridge.
3.6.9. Such a connection could be temporary in the first instance, in time for the City of Culture, and the subject of an architectural competition to create something of artistic merit as well as useful. In the longer term a permanent facility to enable everyone easier access to the walls walk would help to increase the use of this unique asset. 3.6.10. The walls are relatively modest in height, compared to some walled cities, and later development close to them has helped them feel part of the historic city centre rather than the boundary of it. This is not the case on the west side, where the steep hill down to the Bogside makes development more difficult, but elsewhere, the wall walk provides an excellent vantage point for views through and out from the historic city, of its individual buildings and its setting in the wider landscape. There is scope for temporary and permanent features, events and interpretation for local people and visitors. The walking surface has been changed over time and there may be further scope for improving pedestrian comfort, and additional access at other points. 3.6.11. The Panel heard some suggestions that more recent buildings and structures might be removed to open up better views of the walls. This might be justified in some circumstances, but buildings within and beyond the walls are an historically significant characteristic of Derry-Londonderry as well as contributors to the vitality of the historic core. Where poorly designed buildings compromise this historic character there may be scope for their replacement with new development of a higher standard, but the sense of enclosure and the development capacity of the city centre should not be reduced, and buildings that tell part of the story of the city should be retained. 3.6.12. The use of night time lighting is already being explored in Derry-Londonderry â€“ on the Peace Bridge and with the Mute Meadows installation â€“ and the walls offer a further opportunity for creative lighting, both to illuminate their significance and as a canvas for projections. Other buildings offer similar scope, as does the black night time canvas of the river (see later). 3.6.13. The Panel was heartened to hear that APEX Housing Association would in future consider adapting and restoring existing buildings to provide new dwellings, in addition to new build. The re-introduction of mixed tenure housing to the historic core will be one way of strengthening its economic performance, as traditional retail commercial activity moves on-line. Where demolition is appropriate, the opportunity for replacement buildings that not only respect their historic setting, but make a contribution to the Cityâ€™s future heritage must be exploited. We heard of a significant unmet demand for housing for single people, and the historic centre could be a popular location for many of these.
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3.6.14. The Panel was told of long-standing plans for retail development on the periphery of the City. While provision of convenience shopping in suburban areas is an established principle, the expansion of such developments to accommodate comparison shopping could have a severe negative impact on the viability of the city centre if this is not very carefully planned and managed. We felt that there was some scope for accommodating more modern retail development in the city centre, particularly if more enlightened traffic and access policies are adopted (see later), and if associated with an equally creative approach from developers and their design teams in balancing the benefits of the high footfall of a city centre location with the sensitivities of its setting. 3.6.15. It was also clear to the Panel that some former retail areas in the city centre were struggling to remain viable in changing circumstances. Allowing shops outside recognised core primary and secondary retail areas and streets to change to commercial or residential use would strengthen the retail performance of the centre and help to meet other needs. The longer term growth of the population and the economy will require room for expansion. The fringes of the existing centre appear to have considerable redevelopment potential, which should be carefully balanced with any more peripheral provision for commercial and retail development. 3.6.16. The Panel saw some of the areas of fine early Nineteenth Century housing in the conservation area around the historic centre, some of which is in poor condition and in some cases at risk of irreversible decline. We felt that the potential of these areas to help meet future housing needs must be exploited, and that it may be necessary to use public agency powers for compulsory purchase to secure the futures of individual properties at risk. Some residential and commercial properties are tied up in legal problems and co-operation with banks and other interests may help. 3.6.17. A number of older industrial premises, shirt factories in particular, have been put to new uses. Others could be used for housing and possibly hotel/hostel uses that will be necessary to support the expansion of tourism. The potential for such buildings to meet the needs of the growing knowledge industries was also put forward by one of the Congress workshops. The public realm of these areas needs to be improved too, and sensitive highway improvements an important contribution. Just as Dublin has brought its Georgian terraces back into active use, so Derry-Londonderry has the opportunity to bring more residents back into the historic core. One of the characteristics of Derry-Londonderry is the close relationship between the city centre and the countryside generally visible from it. Green spaces within the city centre are few however, and recent improvements to the public realm seem not to include tree planting. Given the significance of the Oak to Derry-Londonderryâ€™s history, indeed its name, the opportunity to include such trees in particular, for their historic relevance and symbolism of the long term perspective, as well as their amenity value, seems obvious. 3.6.18. The Panel heard that a number of important historic properties had been lost through neglect or failure to recognise their significance. Further loss of historic buildings will not only waste their potential to accommodate new uses and meet the needs of a new generation, but reduce the attractiveness of the city to future residents and visitors. The work of the Inner City Trust and Walled City Partnership has showed what can be achieved, and the Panel applauded efforts of these organisations to extend their activities and to encourage other groups and individuals to exploit the potential of historic houses and factories at risk.
3.7. The River Foyle 3.7.1. The setting of Derry-Londonderry is one of its greatest natural assets, and its river has been the reason for past periods of economic prosperity. The locational advantage of the port of Derry-Londonderry for routes across the Atlantic may now be consigned to history, but the Panel was surprised that there was no evident river-based activity today. We were told that the river is shallow and fast flowing, and that may reduce its potential for leisure use, but the Panel felt there should be scope for river-based tourism, events and possibly floating facilities. The river at night is a particularly attractive location and setting, with scope for lighting features, displays and son et lumiĂ¨re. Local participants referred to the recent visit of a cruise ship; if this is possible, there must be further potential. 3.7.2. Major development such as the Quayside and Foyleside shopping centres do not take advantage of the views available, which is a pity. Future opportunities for development along the river could exploit their setting to much greater advantage for occupiers and users. There would also be opportunities to add buildings of distinction to the views of the city from the main approach by road from the east. 3.7.3 Local representatives explained past development proposals for the Fort George site to the north of the city centre, designed in part to take advantage of the connection to the transatlantic high speed cable link. The plans for a major commercial and residential development were halted by the economic downturn, and the Panel felt that this was more of an opportunity than a problem. Office development, if and when there is demand for more, would be located better close to the city centre where it can reinforce the commercial activity of the historic core, encouraging restoration and adaptation of existing buildings as well as redevelopment of obsolete buildings and underused sites. 3.7.4. The Panel felt the Fort George site, identified in the One Plan as a location for new businesses, would be better-suited to primarily residential development, with possible marina and leisure uses. If the landfall of the inter-continental digital link in this location is a distinctive asset (none of the Panel was experienced in such matters), it is likely that the commercial advantage it offers will recede as technology and capacity/speeds improve elsewhere. 3.7.5. The Panel heard different opinions regarding the future of Derry-Londonderryâ€™s railway station on the east bank, but the stronger view, reinforced during the Congress, pressed for restoration and reuse of the Victorian rail shed for its original purpose. Alternative suggestions for a new station close to the Barracks site and Peace Bridge had some support, notably from Translink. While the latter might provide the shortest route into the city centre, most visitors are likely to continue to travel by road to their destination, which from here would be a longer route. 3.7.6. The restoration of the original station has wide community support and would be symbolic of DerryLondonderryâ€™s renewed confidence in the future. As the terminus of a famous rail route along the north coast of Ireland from Belfast, the restoration of the station, along with the planned improvements to the line and services, would be a further reason to visit Derry-Londonderry. There will be scope for improved pedestrian and cycle links between the restored station and the Peace Bridge.
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3.8. Ebrington Barracks 3.8.1. The Panel appreciated the local significance of the transfer of ownership of this site from the Ministry of Defence to the NI Government, represented by ILEX, the Derry-Londonderry urban regeneration company. At 26 acres (almost equivalent to the walled city) it is the largest development site this close to the city centre, and its opening up for public use is symbolic as well as useful. We heard of plans to use parts of the site to accommodate events and exhibitions associated with the 2013 UK City of Culture. While this is an obvious use for the relatively unconstrained space of the parade ground and currently unused buildings, close to the Peace Bridge, the site is still some distance from the city centre, where most of Derry-Londonderryâ€™s traditional and current cultural facilities are located. (see para 3.6.4-6). 3.8.2. Relocating established cultural facilities to the Barracks, such as the museum, and permanently locating new facilities there, such as a hotel and an art gallery, risks undermining the critical mass of attractions in the city centre, and compromising the ultimate potential of the Barracks as a development site. Creating new museums is a risky business, and estimations of public interest are often over-optimistic. They have proved popular with funding agencies and have stimulated some remarkable architecture. Recent examples in Northern Ireland are the Titanic in Belfast and the new Giants Causeway Visitor Centre. The world is scattered however with the carcasses of failed museums, and Derry-Londonderry might direct new capital spending to locations and facilities that have a stronger chance of long term success. (The White Cliffs Experience in Dover is a particularly sad example, and the Museum of Popular Music in Sheffield was mercifully rescued by the local University for alternative use. Both were well-located and accessible, but failed to sustain necessary visitor numbers and public subsidy.) 3.8.3. While the Panel acknowledged the desire to spread facilities throughout Derry-Londonderry, improving access to all sections of the community, we felt that the plan for the Ebrington Barracks site should be reconsidered. The site could accommodate a substantial amount of the new housing anticipated by the One Plan (published 2011). We felt however that it may have greater potential as a location for a major new higher education campus, while still providing public access to new spaces and routes through a site that was closed to the public and a symbol of oppression for so long. The Panel recommends that the potential for this or similar strategic investment be carefully considered before a commitment to incremental development permanently closes the door on the opportunity. 3.8.4. This would not constrain temporary use for some of the bigger 2013 events, such as the All Ireland Fleadh, or long term public access and activities. It would ensure that the scale and location of the site are fully exploited and their benefits maximised for the community as a whole. 3.8.5. During a Congress workshop, the opening of the Peace Bridge, the new routes through the Barracks, and the expanding cycle network, were identified as factors that would change the spatial relationship between the Ebrington area and the rest of the City. Over time local representatives felt that these improved connections would help Ebrington to feel more a contiguous part of central DerryLondonderry, and strengthen the economic performance of local shops and businesses, even without a major development of the Barracks.
3.9. Further and Higher Education 3.9.1. The Panel was surprised that a city the size of Derry-Londonderry had such a small student population. It was unfortunately not possible for the Panel to meet senior representatives from the education sector, but we gained some insight into the history of Magee College and the past policies and progress of the University of Ulster, and are aware that the One Plan has aspirations for around 10,000 higher education places in the City. Like so many aspects of life in Derry-Londonderry, the politics associated with higher education are complicated, but we think that there are economic as well as social reasons why the opportunities for young people to study in Derry-Londonderry should be greater than they are. 3.9.2. The remarkable age profile of Derry-Londonderry, with 40% of the population under 25, means that there is likely to be unmet local demand for higher qualifications in the Derry-Londonderry region, as well as opportunities to attract students from among the families of the Derry-Londonderry diaspora and the wider world. 3.9.3. The Panel was told that Magee College provides around 3000 undergraduate places, and North West Regional College around 750. This is a small total for a city the size of Derry-Londonderry. The scope for the University of Ulster to expand in the near future in Derry-Londonderry may be constrained by commitments elsewhere, but we suggest that other educational institutions might be attracted. The Panel heard of historic and recent associations with Trinity College Dublin, Harvard and other eastern seaboard universities, and Berkeley, California. There might also be potential for exploiting links with the City of London (see later). 3.9.4. Universities no longer have to rely on public funding. The Panel suggested that if there were little chance of public funding for a major facility, there could be scope for attracting private university interests to Derry-Londonderry, particularly if a site as attractive as Ebrington Barracks were offered. A private institution does not have to be exclusive, and could provide a publicly accessible campus, and cultural, sports, welfare and other facilities that could be shared with the wider Ebrington community. An institution of 10,000+ students would create a major new focus of activity in Ebrington, complementing the commercial and civic functions of the city centre, and generating substantial new spending throughout Derry-Londonderry. 3.9.5. New facilities, however funded, would encourage greater competition among education providers in Derry-Londonderry and across the northwest region, strengthen standards, encourage more and better Derry-Londonderry students to stay and study, and encourage students from elsewhere to experience the cultural diversity and environmental quality of Derry-Londonderry. 3.9.6. Over time, the increased proportion of visiting students would help to break down the DerryLondonderry tendency to be wary of ‘outsiders’ and over-protective of ‘locals’ – a trait reported to the Panel a number of times. If Derry-Londonderry is to compete for trade, commerce and status with other modern cities it will have to behave like one. Many of the World’s most successful cities have grown through the energy and new ideas of new people from diverse backgrounds.
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3.10. Roads and access 3.10.1. The Panel heard of the challenges faced as a result of Derry-Londonderryâ€™s remoteness. Its role as an historic gateway to North America by sea has been supplanted by air routes from the rest of Ireland and Europe. The emerging role of Derry-Londonderry airport may improve access to and from the town and its surrounding region in future, despite recent cuts in services. The absence of faster and more reliable connections to/from Belfast and the rest of Ireland is clearly an issue. The Panel appreciated the logic of improving road and rail links which were clearly a local priority. Although the scale and broader complexity of strategic transport planning fell outside the brief of their visit, the Panel was sympathetic to the views of those who feared that whatever transport-related powers were to be delegated to the new local authorities, this would come too late in 2015, and that a forum for discussing and planning such improvements should be established immediately. 3.10.2. Derry-Londonderry obviously has the challenge of handling 21st century traffic with a 17th century road layout in the historic centre. It is not unusual in that. It is probably made more difficult by the lack of investment in public transport, and some local representatives suggested that bus routes terminating at, rather than passing through (and around) the city centre are part of the problem. The Panel detected a culture of predict and provide, in relation to highway planning, rather than the demand management approach now prevalent in most of Europe. 3.10.3. Derry-Londonderry has the advantage of being the main settlement in a monocentric city region. It may have a limited catchment in population and economic terms, but it has no competitor. Providing easy access to Derry-Londonderry from its catchment region has to be balanced with ease of movement within the town for those who live or work in, or those visitors who eventually have to get out of their cars to use it.
3.10.4. The Panel’s perception of the way in which the success of the Peace Bridge is compromised by traffic management in Harbour Square is described in 3.6.3-3.6.4 (above). It reflects a ‘predict and provide’ approach to traffic management that Derry-Londonderry will have to address if it is to improve the quality of life and attractiveness of the city centre as a whole to future investment. The UK City of Culture year will be an opportunity to test alternative management approaches, as extraordinary numbers of pedestrians will be using the central area, and arrangements for peripheral parking, pedestrian priority and public transport connections will have to be provided. The most successful can be made permanent. Such an approach may be in place, but the Panel saw and heard no evidence of it. This was endorsed by Congress discussions of the success of alternative approaches to traffic management elsewhere in the UK and Europe. Many speakers supported a popular forum to monitor and exploit the experience of increased pedestrian priority during 2013.
The re-opening of the old railway station could be combined with a new pedestrian and cycle route along the east bank to Ebrington, St Columbs Park and the Peace Bridge
3.10.5. Derry-Londonderry is separated from its waterfront for much of its length by the railway on one side and the Duke Street and Foyle Embankment dual carriageways on both sides. Improvements to the road layout on the west side could open up greater access. The improvements to footpath/cycle route along the riverside from Queens Quay northwards are beginning to show the benefits of this kind of investment. Proposals for Harbour Square should be an opportunity to link this promenade with the Peace Bridge and Guildhall Square. The re-opening of the old railway station could be combined with a new pedestrian and cycle route along the east bank to Ebrington, St Columbs Park and the Peace Bridge. The Panel heard of earlier suggestions that the rail route between the Peace Bridge and the restored station could be ‘calmed’ – with resurfacing and train speeds reduced to walking pace, to allow pedestrians access across it to the riverside. This was discussed and supported at the Congress, with examples of tram sites elsewhere operating along similar lines.
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3.11. Relationship with London 3.11.1. The origins of the plantation town and the evolution of Derry-Londonderry since its foundation are fundamental to the present day circumstances. There can be few communities as aware of the historic reasons for their existence and present problems than Derry-Londonderryâ€™s. Past hostility to the City of London among the majority of Derry-Londonderryâ€™s residents was perhaps inevitable, and the Panel was encouraged that attitudes are softening. There may be scope for renewing and developing this historic relationship in ways that would be wholly advantageous to Derry-Londonderry. 3.11.2. There remain links to City of London institutions, through the Honourable the Irish Society and it is possible that these could be sources of renewed investment in the future. As with the potential for attracting a higher education institution, any external interest from established investors would help to raise the profile of Derry-Londonderry and encourage competition.
3.12. Institutional inertia 3.12.1. The Panel were impressed with the scale and intensity of intervention by public, private and third sector agencies, and some high profile individuals. The amount of progress made in redeveloping damaged sites and buildings, creating new employment and promoting new forms of cultural development is pretty heroic. After several decades of effort, and tapping sources of investment – especially local, regional, UK and European public funding – it is inevitable that Derry-Londonderry initiatives have been shaped by the difficulties of working within the fragmented central and local government structures, that are a legacy of the Troubles, and the inevitable bureaucracy and compliance obligations that funding sources require to avoid the repeat of historic discrimination. 3.12.2. Taken together though, these obligations can be a significant drag on progress. Performance criteria, governance and value for money obligations have to be applied across a diverse range of activities for which many processes/structures may not be appropriate or helpful, and the Panel sensed that this was becoming the case in Derry-Londonderry. When economic circumstances are so difficult, opportunities require a rapid response and a flexible approach. That seems difficult in Derry-Londonderry, particularly where there is a fear that initiatives will be of benefit to ‘outsiders’. Derry-Londonderry, like anywhere else, will be as reliant on inward investment and new ideas as it will on encouraging home grown talent. Opportunities to welcome new investors must be seized when they occur and not held in abeyance until other interests have been aligned – by then they are likely to have gone elsewhere. 3.12.3. The One Plan attempts to pull together and simplify the plethora of initiatives (around 80 at one count) which ILEX and other agencies were struggling to co-ordinate. The Panel detected still a tendency to tackle every new challenge with a new strategy, steering group and survey. It may be counter-intuitive in the historical context, but if public bodies allowed themselves and others more freedom to follow ideas and sources of energy, the City would be more effectively enriched, culturally and economically, by those exercising initiative. It was telling during at least one workshop during the Congress, that suggestions for more rapid action were countered with difficulties in securing the necessary consents. DCC, ILEX and other agencies should have delegated powers to put in place generic consents and create a generally permissive environment that will encourage initiative. 3.12.4. The greater freedoms and responsibilities that will come for the new Derry-Londonderry authority with Government reorganisation of local government in 2015 are really too far away, particularly if Derry-Londonderry is to maximise the potential of 2013 UK City of Culture. The Panel suggests that ways are found to give greater freedom to individual projects, and refreshing the structures and systems to which agencies seem to be bound. There may be a higher risk of some initiatives failing, but that should be balanced by those that will be up and running in 2013, and able to ride the wave of public attention that will be focussed on Derry-Londonderry.
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4.1. Cultural legacy 4.1.1. All the people of Derry-Londonderry should be able to value, use and enjoy the heritage of the Plantation that survives in the walls and buildings within and around the city centre as part of their shared heritage 4.1.2. Special considerations in providing public services arising from the sectarian history of DerryLondonderry are likely to perpetuate differences in the long term, and should be superseded by rational, city-wide services. 4.1.3. The growing social enterprise sector helping the city find new ways of overcoming economic and historic disadvantages should be encouraged and expanded. 4.1.4. The historic City centre has been and should be the centre for the whole community, and promoted as such. 4.1.5. Permanent facilities like the Maritime Museum and City of Culture legacy facilities should be located in the historic city centre. ie the walled city and its immediate environs making use of vacant buildings where possible 4.1.6. Searching out, or creating, Derry-Londonderry-specific foodstuffs and dishes, and promoting high standards of catering will encourage and sustain visitor interest. 4.2. The historic city centre 4.2.1. The pedestrian crossing should be relocated to link the Bridge to the Guildhall Square, immediately. The link along Whittaker Street and Shipquay Street to The Diamond should be improved for pedestrians as soon as possible. 4.2.2. The Maritime Museum should remain in the city centre. Possibly in the Harbour Office and former Custom House 4.2.3. Further cultural and leisure/entertainment facilities around Guildhall Square and Harbour Square would help establish a substantial cultural focus at the western end of the Peace Bridge, balancing future complementary facilities on the Barracks site at its eastern end. 4.2.4. Additional accommodation for the new Local Authority would be more suitably provided in a new building, reflecting the political commitment to the future and setting a standard for other development. 4.2.5. Create a new access on to the city wall, from the outside on Guildhall Square to encourage greater use and provide a high profile architectural/artistic opportunity associated with the 2013 UK City of Culture celebration. 4.2.6. Introduce temporary and permanent features, events and interpretation on the walls for local people and visitors.
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4.2.7. Retain the sense of enclosure around the walls and the buildings that tell part of the story of the city. 4.2.8. Introduce more creative lighting of the city walls and principle buildings/features. 4.2.9. Re-introduce mixed tenure housing to the historic core, especially for small households, to meet social need and strengthen economic performance. 4.2.10. Where demolition is unavoidable, replacement buildings must respect their historic setting, and contribute to the Cityâ€™s future heritage by employing and demonstrating the best standards of contemporary architectural design. 4.2.11. The expansion of out of town retail should be very carefully controlled, and precedence given to new retail development in and adjacent to the City centre. 4.2.12. Underused or vacant historic buildings should be retained and brought back into use, to help meet future housing needs. Where necessary public agency powers for compulsory purchase should secure the futures of individual properties at risk. 4.2.13. Older industrial premises, shirt factories and redundant retail units in particular, should be acquired and used for housing and possibly hotel/hostel /new industry uses. 4.2.14. The achievements of the Inner City Trust and the Walled City Partnership should be extended and other groups and individuals encouraged to exploit the potential of historic houses and factories at risk. 4.3. The River Foyle 4.3.1. The scope for river-based tourism, events and possibly floating facilities should be exploited. 4.3.2. The river at night is a particularly attractive location and setting, with scope for lighting features, displays and son et lumiĂ¨re. 4.3.3. Future opportunities for development along the river should be designed to exploit and contribute to their setting. 4.3.4. The restoration of the original station as the terminus for the improved, and famous, rail route along the north coast of Ireland, should be promoted as part of the experience for visitors. 4.4. Ebrington 4.4.1. Relocating established cultural facilities to the Barracks risks undermining the critical mass of attractions in the city centre, and compromising the ultimate potential of the Barracks as a development site. 4.4.2. The Barracksâ€™ greatest potential may be as a location for a major new higher education campus.
4.5. Further and higher education 4.5.1. Other higher educational institutions might be attracted to Derry-Londonderry, particularly if a site as attractive as Ebrington Barracks were offered. Such a use of the Barracks could provide facilities to be shared with the local and wider community. 4.6. Roads and access 4.6.1. A forum for discussing and planning such improvements for pedestrians should be established immediately. 4.6.2. The outdated approach to traffic management that stifles Derry-Londonderry should be replaced with an approach led by the aim of improving the quality of life and attractiveness of the city centre for people not in cars, and encouraging investment. 4.6.3. The UK City of Culture year will be an opportunity to test alternative management approaches, some of which may be made permanent. 4.6.4. The re-opening of the old railway station should be combined with a new pedestrian and cycle route along the east bank to Ebrington, St Columbs Park and the Peace Bridge. 4.7. Relationship with London 4.7.1. Derry-Londonderry should explore ways of renewing and developing the relationship to its greater advantage. 4.8 Institutional inertia 4.8.1. Public agencies must facilitate rapid responses and a flexible approach to initiatives. 4.8.2. Agencies should help Derry-Londonderry grow away from its differentiation between locals and outsiders. 4.8.3. Opportunities to welcome new investors must be seized when they occur and not held in abeyance until all other interests have been aligned. 4.8.4. Agencies should resist the inclination to tackle every new challenge with a new strategy, steering group and survey. They should allow themselves and others more freedom to follow ideas and sources of energy and initiative. 4.8.5. The greater freedoms and responsibilities of new Derry-Londonderry authority in 2015 are too far away, and mechanisms to establish local decision making and greater freedom should be established immediately, using the 2013 City of Culture celebration as the primary justification.
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5. Appendix 1 & 2 Appendix One
The AcAdemy of UrbAnism PLACE PARTnERInG DIAGnOSTIC vISITS An invitation to the Academy’s Urbanism Award Finalists The Academy of Urbanism The Academy is an active, not-for-profit membership organisation founded to expand our collective understanding of placemaking and to share best practice. The Academy brings together a leading group of thinkers, decision-makers and practitioners involved in the social, cultural, economic, political and physical development of our villages, towns and cities across Great Britain, Ireland and increasingly, international countries. We aim to advance the understanding and practice of urbanism by promoting a culture of scholarship through evidence-based enquiry, providing an inclusive dialogue across all disciplines, sharing knowledge with the community and our peers and nurturing, recognising and rewarding excellence in achievement. Securing Long Term Success Representatives of some of those places that have been nominated as Finalists in The Academy of Urbanism’s annual Awards for Great Places have expressed a desire for more advice and support to secure the long term success of their place, and/or expand their range of activity. The Academy is keen to respond, and is establishing a panel of Academicians from which a small group with appropriate and complementary experience will visit a place – neighbourhood, town, city quarter – to help local representatives establish a comprehensive and objective appreciation of what makes their place special. What we can offer The time, energy and money that you invest in your place’s future must not be wasted pursuing unrealistic or unsustainable goals. We can help you build confidence and engagement throughout the local community, and the best chance of support for and success of your vision. The Academy’s panel will engage with key local people to stimulate and challenge ideas. It will produce a diagnostic report of your place’s strengths and any immediate and wider threats to sustaining them. It will present its suggestions to you and the local community to answer questions and stimulate further debate.
We expect our input to be the start of something, not the end. The Panel will not tell you what you should do. Their intensive input will help you ensure that your vision, aspirations and plans for the future are sound, and that you are aware of the internal and external pressures that might compromise them. Their insight will give you confidence that you are making the most of your human and environmental assets. The Agreement Once a commission has been accepted, the Academy will offer an initial consultation with the lead Academician appointed to curate your project; to define the brief, establish expectations, and agree outputs. You will appoint a lead representative to liaise and co-ordinate with the lead Academician. Up to three days of each panel member’s time will be offered free of charge. You will cover visiting Academicians’ travel, accommodation and subsistence costs and make a contribution to the Academy’s costs, all of which is likely to total between £2,500 - £3,500. Further help may be possible by negotiation and agreement with the Academy. You will provide adequate preparatory information in advance, additional information as reasonably requested, and access to key partners and local representatives. Advice will be offered by the Academy in good faith, but neither the Academy nor you are bound by the advice, and you will accept full responsibility for acting on the advice offered. Participating places will be helped to partner with the Academy’s growing network of Great Places directly, and through Academy events and other initiatives. Register your Interest Please register your interest in the programme by contacting Stephen Gallagher by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on +44 (0)20 7351 8777. The Academy of Urbanism 70 Cowcross Street London EC1M 6EJ email@example.com www.academyofurbanism.org.uk
Appendix Two: participants
THE ACADEMY OF URBANISM PANEL
Derek Latham AoU, Chair
ILEX URBAN REGENERATION COMPANY
Steven Bee AoU, Rapporteur
Maura Fox (inter agency co-ordinator)
David Porter AoU
Paul Gosling, Economist + freelance journalist
Sinead McLaughlin, CEO, Chamber of Commerce
David Taylor AoU Dickon Robinson AoU
Eamon Deane, Holywell Trust MINISTERIAL ADVISORY GROUP FOR ARCHITECTURE & THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
Susan Gibson, Derry Well Women Aine Downey, retired Senior Lecturer, University of Ulster
Arthur Acheson, MAG Chair Diana Fitzsimons, MAG Member Emily Smyth, MAG Member Alan Strong, MAG Member Mary Kerrigan, MAG Expert Advisor
BUILT ENVIRONMENT – NON PROFIT+AMENITY ORGANISATIONS Mary O’Dwyer, Chair / Jo Mitchell, Treasurer, Foyle Civic Trust
Conal McFeely, Social Economist
Marian Farrell, ecological activist and PS outreach teacher of literacy,Transition Derry In addition to those who presented to the panel as part of cluster groups the following attended the evening dinner Sharon O’Connor, Derry City Council Helena O’Toole, Planning NI
Mary Kerrigan, Education Officer, Walled City Partnership
Helen Quigley, Inner City Trust
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT
Helen Quigley, CEO, Inner City Trust
Kevin McGovern, Planning Consultant
Maura Fox & Helena O’Toole, Planning
Siobhan Porter, APEX Housing Association
Paul Gosling, Journalist
Manus Deery, NIEA
Eamonn McCann, writer, journalist, human rights campaigner, Into The West (Rail lobby group)
Conal McFeely, Rathmor Centre, Creggan
DEPARTMENT FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT Jim Campbell, Roads Service
PROPERTY / DEVELOPERS Hugh Hegarty, property
DEPARTMENT FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT Martin Quigg, North West Regeneration Office
Shauna Duddy, retailer and property, Duddy Group
Shona McCarthy, Culture Co
Siobhan Porter, APEX Housing Association Steve Bee AoU Derek Latham AoU David Porter AoU David Taylor AoU Dickon Robinson AoU Emily Smyth, MAG member
Alan Strong, MAG member
Councillor Maeve McLaughlin, Sinn Fein
Diana Fitzsimons, MAG member
CITY CENTRE WELL BEING
Councillor Gerard Diver, SDLP
Jim Roddy, CEO, City Centre Initiative
Tony Monaghan, Economic Development, Derry City Council
Mary Kerrigan, MAG Expert Advisor, Walled City Partnership Education Officer
Martin McCrossan, Chair, City Traders Forum Inspector Barry Pollin, Community Policing, Police Service of Northern Ireland
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The Academy of Urbanism 70 Cowcross Street London EC1M 6EJ United Kingdom For more information please get in touch +44 (0) 20 7251 8777 firstname.lastname@example.org Visit us online academyofurbanism.org.uk
Images contributed by Steven Bee John Thompson
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Published on Sep 2, 2012
The Academy of Urbanism is an autonomous, politically independent, cross-sector organisation formed in 2006 to expand urban discourse.