Uni cannot buy Foyle site due to budget pressure

Pictured at the announcement in 2009 that the University of Ulster at Magee has acquired the option to purchase  the lands of Foyle and Londonderry College are, Professor Deirdre Heenan, Dean of Academic Development, and Mr. Jack Magill, former  Headmaster of Foyle and Londonderry College. Picture Martin McKeown.
Pictured at the announcement in 2009 that the University of Ulster at Magee has acquired the option to purchase the lands of Foyle and Londonderry College are, Professor Deirdre Heenan, Dean of Academic Development, and Mr. Jack Magill, former Headmaster of Foyle and Londonderry College. Picture Martin McKeown.

A Londonderry MLA says it’s hugely disappointing the University of Ulster will not be able to purchase the old Foyle and Londonderry site at the Northland Road as soon as the school vacates to the Waterside.

The University signed an option agreement with Foyle and Londonderry to acquire the 30 acres of land in 2009.

The acquisition is supposed to help facilitate plans to create Institutes of Sustainable Technologies and Health and Wellbeing and to expand its Computing, Electronics and Software, Creative Technologies and Animation, and Business and Professional Services provision at the Londonderry campus.

But speaking at the Assembly during the budget debate on Monday, SDLP Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey, said: “Ulster University made announcements this week.

“It is hugely disappointing to learn that it is now not able to proceed with the purchase of land on the old Foyle and Londonderry site on Northland Road.

“We all endeavoured, through unity of purpose in the city, to ensure that St Mary’s College was facilitated on the old Templemore site. Foyle and Londonderry College was facilitated by a new school in the Waterside.

“The third part of that tripod was the development and retention of land on Northland Road, the old Foyle and Londonderry site, for future generations in the city.

“Minister, you may want to examine working collaboratively with the university to find a creative way of ensuring that that land is saved, not for this generation or even the next but for future generations of young people and the economic betterment of not just Derry but the North West.”

He echoed the former Mayor of Londonderry AW Anderson’s claim of fifty years ago that the expansion of Magee was the single-most important issue for Londonderry.

Mr Ramsey said the city is haemorrhaging young people every semester Magee hasn’t expanded.

“Here we have the most important economic development project that could ever take place in the North West. It is not just for Derry; it is for the North West, and the benefit would be for the student population in Northern Ireland.

“But, with each passing semester, we are losing our young people and their skills and talents to another region or country further afield. This further contributes to our unemployment deficit in Derry and the North West and the high number of our young people who leave to seek work in the east of the Province.”