Ilex shut down by Stormont

'Sticks in the City' will take place at Ebrington Square on Saturday afternoon.
'Sticks in the City' will take place at Ebrington Square on Saturday afternoon.

Ilex is to be wound up by Stormont by next March in a shock move today.

The company, which has been charged with the regeneration of Londonderry since 2003, oversaw the building of the Peace Bridge and the development of Ebrington Square.

But it has been criticised for the slow pace of that development.

The move to shut down the company was made in a joint statement by the First and Deputy First Minister Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness today.

The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister will take over the development of Ebrington.

Both ministers said they were “more determined than ever” to maximise the potential of Ebrington.

“We remain fully committed to maximise the potential of Ebrington and the North West and will leave no stone unturned in driving development and regeneration plans to the benefit of all the local people,” the statement said.

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness made their promise as they accepted the findings of the independent review of Ilex Urban Regeneration Company.

Mr Robinson said: “We commissioned an independent review of Ilex Urban Regeneration Company in January 2015 to consider the continued need for the company. The review examined its effectiveness, purpose, aims, objectives, value for money and funding arrangements, with particular emphasis on its effectiveness for the development of the Ebrington site.”

He said an urban regeneration company should be time-bound, he Ilex would, ultimately, move to the local council.

“However, given the recent resignations of the entire senior management team we have decided that the development of Ebrington will be led by OFMDFM. Discussions are well advanced between Ilex, DSD and DCSDC, in relation to the formal transfer of the One Plan Team to the Community Planning role within the Council,” he said.

Mr McGuinness said: “Derry City and Strabane District Council has indicated it stands ready to discuss the transfer of the regeneration of the site to the Council. Although a transfer cannot happen immediately, the intention that the council should take responsibility for the Ebrington site to deliver the capital works remains our preferred option which we would wish to see achieved by 2017.

“In the interim given the need to progress development, responsibility for the Ebrington site will be returned to OFMDFM with management of the capital projects being taken forward by senior OFMDFM officials in conjunction with the Strategic Investment Board.

“OFMDFM will work closely with the Board and staff of Ilex to close the company and ensure the development of Ebrington including the Grade A office accommodation proposed for the site will proceed as planned.”

The company will be closing by March 31, 2016 and all affected staff will be eligible to receive any redundancy entitlements.

OFMDFM officials will work with the Ilex Board to assist staff throughout this process.