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Wednesday, October 10, 2018 - 18:00

A ground-breaking and unique educational hub for the City of Derry~Londonderry is being proposed by a group of partners looking to transform lands on the banks of the River Foyle. The project will be complementary to Ulster University Magee and will focus on opening up new educational opportunities for a diverse range of students of all ages.

Along with the sponsorship and personnel support of the Northside Development Trust, the Foyle River Gardens, a local partnership, has for the past five years been working with the Eden Project - one of the UK’s most successful economic regeneration projects and a global symbol of environmental regeneration and education - in Derry~Londonderry to explore ways to sensitively rejuvenate the site extending from the Foyle Bridge towards Culmore Point.

The project aim is to link the Boom Hall and Brook Hall estates, including previously inaccessible river frontages, and transform these into a new cultural tourism, and community asset helping to drive social, economic and environmental regeneration in the city.

The Eden Project and its partners believe this internationally significant union will enable this historic site to become a designed space specifically tailored to explore the potential of people in the landscape. Underpinning this regeneration project is an ambition to provide a space where learning can take place across the site. As such, the Foyle River Gardens and the Eden Project have identified the further and higher education sectors as crucial to the realisation of this aspiration.

Together they have invited Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University as the two main local universities to collaborate on this unique project.

Chairman of Foyle River Gardens, Eamonn Deane, said today: “Our vision is that the Foyle River Gardens will become a focus for local community and international tourists alike through a unique riverside landscape offering play, relaxation, entertainment and learning. We will deliver a unique experience supported by our world-class partners that is local in nature but global in outreach. We believe this project has the ability to enhance and transform Derry’s economic fortunes, creating employment opportunities for local graduates from economic growth in key areas such as tourism, the environment and agriculture. We are a small city, but we think big. Our ambition knows no bounds.”

Commenting on the opportunity which Foyle River Gardens offers to support collaboration between the two universities Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice-Chancellor and President of Ulster University, said: “This exciting collaboration builds upon the combined strengths of both Universities and has the potential to deliver new jobs and stimulate economic growth for the North West. It also complements Ulster University’s expansion plans and our City Deal propositions.”

Professor Ian Greer, President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University, said: “Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University are collaborating to explore the potential of working with the Eden Project to develop new world-class research project as part of the Foyle River Garden project. Planning is at an early stage however we are committed to progress this exciting proposal which will have significant benefits for the North West and Northern Ireland.”

Sir Tim Smit, Eden Project Co-Founder, said: “Derry is a world city on the banks of one of the most beautiful rivers anywhere.  The invitation to participate in developing a project that creates the cultural, social and economic excitement that can redefine its future makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

“We stand on the shoulders of giants who have sacrificed much to create this platform and the fact that the two top universities have dared to commit to work together with a closeness many thought unimaginable gives me real confidence that Derry’s time is coming. We are hugely excited at the international collaborations we can bring to a site that will be not only a global leisure destination but also a mould-breaking centre for science and human health learning, education and research.”