Business

£25m 'Our Future Foyle' project set to transform Derry

How the series of 40 riverside pods will look

DERRY has further cranked up its City Deal bid by unveiling a proposed £25 million regeneration scheme to transform the banks of the River Foyle and Foyle Bridge and bring significant economic and health benefits for the city and wider North West region.

The 'Our Future Foyle' project includes proposals for the largest art installation in Northern Ireland - an 800 metres long illuminated sculptural intervention on the Foyle Bridge designed to become a positive landmark and help prevent suicide.

The concept, the first-of-its-kind globally, has been developed over the past two years through extensive community and stakeholder engagement in a bid to transform the banks of the Foyle and the bridge by attracting investment, culture and tourism, whilst delivering support for mental health through a series of interventions designed to address and raise awareness of suicide prevention.

The project will see an area along a six-mile loop of riverfront including the banks and three bridges adorned with a series of transformative, cultural and health interventions which include three main elements - an illuminated sculpture of more than 12,000 individual reeds; a series of 40 riverside pods; and a sculpture park with digital content and events to enliven the river.

All three strands of the project have been included in Derry City's city deal bid.

The project is spearheaded by the Royal College of Art's Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and the Northern Ireland Public Health Agency.

More than 5,000 individuals have been involved in giving their feedback concerning how the river could be used to its full potential, and many of those ideas have been included in the plans.

Ralf Alwani, design project lead and RCA research associate said: “This is hugely significant as it means we are one step closer to improving people's physical, mental and social health in Derry.

“We have combined art and digital innovation and utilised partnerships with high profile partners across central and local government, the community and corporate sector which will help bring such positive changes to the City.

“The overarching ambition of the project is to help change the communities' cognitive attitude to bring much-needed investment and regeneration to the area as well as positioning the river in a positive way that it evokes positive thoughts of opportunity, engagement, and activity."

Brendan Bonner from the PHA said: “Northern Ireland has the highest rate of suicide in the UK. The recent spike in incidents on the river has contributed to our strong desire to do something positive to help tackle this head-on.

“Research into mental health shows that art installations which evoke nature can make people feel less anxious; another shows that that investing in places that have meaning to communities can result in a sense of pride in a neighbourhood.

"This project has elements of both of these theories and we believe animating the river through cultural led regeneration will link and continue the regeneration of the city, the Foyle and the links between its three sister bridges.”

A public pre-application community consultation on the proposals will begin on November 5. More information can be found at www.futurefoyle.org

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