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Fresh bid to fund cross-border project

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Fresh bid to fund cross-border project thumbnailThe Riverine Project masterplan for the Strabane and Lifford areas.

A FRESH bid to an EU funding pot to finance a multi-million pound cross-border project is due to be submitted in the coming weeks.

The Riverine Project plan, which aims to completely regenerate the area linking the border towns of Strabane and Lifford, is the subject of a renewed 8 million euro Peace IV funding bid by Donegal County Council in partnership with Derry City and Strabane District Council to the Special European Programmes Body (SEUPB).

The plans for the 30-acre 'iconic shared space' include the provision of a public park, open air theatre, walking and running routes, a cycling zone, public art and a footbridge.

The ambitious project has been in the making for over a decade and was officially given the go ahead back in 2011 but it has suffered a number of funding setbacks most recently in March this year when it missed out by a solitary point in what SEUPB described as a 'competitive process'.

The project failed to secure the funding due to a perceived lack of community engagement with SEUPB claiming the project did not demonstrate the required 'community interest'.

In response, the community sector and local businesses rallied together in a final effort to get the project across the funding line by showing that the scheme has public support.

They organised an event at the weekend involving communities from both sides of the border with the aim of sending a message loud and clear to funders that the project is both needed and wanted.

Hundreds of people turned out in support of the 'Rise of the Riverine' event on Sunday which saw people walking from both town centres and uniting for a family fun day at 'the Tinnies'.

Councillor Paul Gallagher, one of those behind the event, says he is confident the project will go ahead.

"We will get our park", he said at the event on Sunday. "It's going to happen.

"This project - which we have been working towards for 10 years - missed out by one point. The SEUPB have asked questions around community use and does the community really want this park. So, we set out to prove just how much a project like this means to Strabane and Lifford.

"This event has proven that there is community buy-in. The message today to SEUPB is a resounding one and that is that the community is giving their support to this park."

Cllr Gallagher said organisers are now working on compiling a portfolio of evidence to demonstrate this.

"We have a huge banner and had been going around with it to all the clubs, playgroups, schools, community organisations and the youth groups in both towns getting their support for the Riverine Project. Everyone is 100 per-cent supportive of it.

"People have also been looking at the plans on show today (Sunday) and they are all saying the same thing and that is that we need and want this park.

"Until now, the community never realised that their input was required. Even the councils were blind-sided by this so we are now compiling an evidence-based album to present with the new bid when it goes in.

"Surveys have also been conducted and all that feedback will be included with the final submission."

Cllr Gallagher added: "A project like this will transform and link both communities. If SEUPB are saying 'we don't know the community will use it' then we are saying here is the proof. We're very pleased with the turn-out."

A spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council confirmed that it is currently working closely with Donegal County Council to progress plans for the project.

 

"A new application for PEACE IV funding is currently being compiled for submission under the second Shared Spaces Capital Projects call by June 18. SEUPB will announce the funding decisions by the end of 2018.

"The proposed multi-million pound, cross-border project is to develop an iconic and regionally significant, shared space parkland facility bridging the east and west banks of the River Foyle between the towns of Strabane and Lifford, which will further strengthen cross-border links and enhance the relationship between these two towns and their hinterlands," she added.

To show your support for the Riverine Project, you can fill out an online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/RIVERINE2

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