Acorn Farm community plan for St Columb’s Park House unveiled

An artist's impression of the completed Acorn Farm project at St Columb's Road.
An artist's impression of the completed Acorn Farm project at St Columb's Road.

Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Planning Committee has approved exciting plans to develop an outdoor community growing space and education facility at vacant lands off St Columb’s Road opposite the former Ebrington Barracks site.

The Acorn Farm project will include a centrepiece 10m tall solar dome and is a key aspect of the wider St Columb’s Park regeneration plans where work began recently on the restoration of the Walled Garden at St Columb’s Park House and a new gated avenue linking the house to St Columb’s Road.

The work is highlighted as a priority capital project in Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Parks Development Programme and the Strategic Growth Plan which commits to protect and promote our natural and built heritage assets and develop our parks and green spaces.

Chair of Derry City and Strabane District Council Planning Committee Warren Robinson welcomed this week’s approval and spoke of his excitement at the continued regeneration of St Columb’s Park and the Ebrington site.

“Acorn Farm is an exciting social innovation project that will support employment locally through food production and urban agri-architecture and continuing the commitment in the Strategic Growth Plan to continue the environmental and physical regeneration of urban and rural places.

“This green campus for innovation will be a significant addition to the Waterside area, returning the currently derelict MOD site to use as a vibrant hub for learning and development.

“The completed project and the dome centrepiece will be a unique visitor attraction, attracting new business to the area and creating a lifelong learning platform for research and training opportunities and promoting sustainable practices.”

The plans approved at this week’s meeting include an outdoor community growing space inclusive of vegetable gardens, glasshouses, domes, parking and an access road.

The land had previously been used as a helicopter pad for the military and the site is enclosed with a large wall with existing access point and pillars onto St Columb’s Road.

Sharon Doherty, St Columb’s Park House, said: “The planning approval for Acorn Farm is a new and exciting concept for St Columb’s Park combining innovation and education around growing and food production.

“It’s link to the restored Walled Garden at St Columbs Park House provides great opportunities to engage in the Park in new and creative ways.

“We are delighted with the continued support from DCSDC in the regeneration of the Park which is a real natural resource for the City.”

Acorn Fund Development Officer Shauna Kelpie added: “St Columb’s Park House and the Acorn Fund along with DCSDC are delighted that planning has been approved for this innovative project. “Acorn Farm has the potential to transform how local people interact with their natural environment in an urban context and better understand the potential benefits on health and the sustainability of our food.”