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Thursday, June 18, 2020 - 16:15

Brandon Lewis MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has made an official visit to the site of the proposed Eden Project Foyle in Derry~Londonderry.

The visit on Thursday last week (June 11) saw the Minister spend a morning touring the site on the bank of the Foyle, which includes both the Boom Hall and Brook Hall estates.

He met Eamonn Deane, Chairman of the Foyle River Gardens charity, Clare McGee and Barney Toal of the Foyle River Gardens charity, Karen Phillips, Director of Environment and Regeneration at Derry City and Strabane District Council, and John Gilliland, Landowner of the Brook Hall Estate.

Mr Lewis was told about plans for Eden Project Foyle, which has the ambition of becoming a highlight of any visit to the region. He was shown details including the opening of a riverside walkway and the restoration and regeneration of existing heritage buildings and walled gardens.

The project team told Mr Lewis that Eden Project Foyle could be an important part of the regional recovery from the global pandemic.

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis MP said: "I was very impressed by the beautiful landscape and ambitious development plans to open up this natural outdoor space to the public - supporting the regeneration of the whole area.

“The dedicated staff and volunteers are working hard to make this project a reality and turn this part of the city into a major tourist attraction. I look forward to seeing the plans progress."

Eamonn Deane, Chairman of Foyle River Gardens charity, said: “We were delighted to welcome Mr Lewis to this unique site and share with him our collective vision for the site and our excitement at bringing the Eden Project to the North West.

“The recent positive announcements about the medical school and the riverfront transformation are fantastic news for the City. We believe Eden Project Foyle to be part of the positive story for the North West and are looking forward to working with our partners in Derry and Donegal to bring this project forward as we recover and rebuild from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.”

The Eden Project, Foyle River Gardens project partner, also welcomed the Secretary of State’s visit.

Dan James, Eden Project Development Director, said: “We are grateful to the Foyle River Gardens team for hosting this visit and sharing our vision for the site.

“As a team we remain convinced that Eden Project Foyle will become a key destination in the North West, creating many jobs and boosting the regional economy.

“A lot of technical work continues on the project as we progress our plans in anticipation of a planning submission, with the aim of the project being on site in 2023.”

Eden Project Foyle is set to be a new riverside cultural and environmental tourist attraction in Derry~Londonderry, developed by the Foyle River Gardens charity and educational charity, Eden Project.

It is an ambitious plan to transform the North West region, linking the Boom Hall and Brook Hall estates and giving public access to previously inaccessible land. The site overlooks the River Foyle and is home to a magnificent heritage landscape that includes three unique walled gardens.

The first images of Eden Project Foyle were released earlier this year, showing the proposed project centrepiece, a spectacular building inspired by Neolithic architecture and connected with a network of walkways.

Inside the building would be a performance area and play spaces. Visitors would be able to walk on the roof and take zipwires down to the walkways. The structure would be nestled within the trees and inspired by the forest, with a timber and thatch construction which is light, efficient and low-carbon.

Eden Project Foyle would be a beacon of cultural tourism and a community asset helping to drive social, economic and environmental regeneration in the city.

The development intends to rejuvenate the site extending from the Foyle Bridge towards Culmore Point and plans for it include walled gardens, tree-top and floating walkways, a water activity centre and play areas. The 100-hectare (250-acre) site includes 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles) of the River Foyle’s bank.