'˜Putting people above shops andcafés will rejuvenate city centre'

Allowing more people live above shops and restaurants in the city centre will rejuventate Derry's economic heart, councillors argued while approving 33 new flats in separate developments in Waterloo Street and Shipquay street on Wednesday.

Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Planning Committee gave the green light to G. Donaghy’s proposal to build 14 apartments at 27 Shipquay Street, just down from the entrance to the Richmond Centre.

They also approved a separate proposal by Ashfield Properties (NI) Ltd. to build 19 apartments over five floors above the Kataya’s, Rockets and Paolo’s Pizzas take-away outlets at the bottom of Waterloo Street.

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The committee heard that whilst the Shipquay Street building, which was previously approved as a youth hostel, wasn’t listed, a number of its neighbours were.

SDLP Councillor Gus Hastings, welcomed the proposal, saying it would breath life into the city centre.

“It’s another good day for us. We are actually starting to repopulate out town centre,” he commented.

“This will regenerate our economic heart,” he added.

Sinn Féin Councillor Chris Jackson agreed.

He said: “Its’ a good news story. The regeneration of the city centre is a priority for as all

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“We support the idea of living above shops. That’s essential to rejuvenate the city centre,” added the Waterside representative.

A planning officer said the retention of a “traditional shop-front entrance would greatly enhance the streetscape”.

Committee members also heard how a two storey roof extension proposal accompanying the Waterloo Street development had to be knocked back as planners had concerns about the impact on the streetscape.

However, a significantly reduced application was approved.

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricial Logue echoed her colleagues’ earlier comments about the Shipquay Street flats, in relation to the new proposal in Waterloo Street.

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“Certainly, if you’re to enhance the city centre then the concept of living above shops is the way forward,” said Colr. Logue.

“I’m glad to see the size has been reduceed in keeping with the streetscape,” she added.

Speaking after the meeting the Chairman of the Planning Committee John Boyle said: “This development will bring a substantial boost to the local economy and provide mixed use housing and retail in a very popular area right in the heart of the city centre.”