Exploring the lasting legacy of the walled city

Shipquay Street Townscape Heritage Initiative scheme
Shipquay Street Townscape Heritage Initiative scheme
Two Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) grants have helped regenerate the historic built heritage of Derry~Londonderry. City Centre Manager, Jim Roddy, explores its lasting legacy for the walled city.

The city of Derry~Londonderry has been transformed in the last number of years and a crucial aspect of this is due to the investment provided by HLF.  We are, as a city now telling a new story which is heavily focused on heritage-led regeneration. This mechanism has been used to deliver a city centre which is more welcoming to visitors, is open for business and is better equipped to service the needs of other users whilst improving the overall streetscape of the city centre as a whole.  

Attracting additional investment, delivering results

In the first phase of the THI scheme, HLF support of £1million levered a further £3.5m investment into the city centre.  This supported improvements to 19 retail units, helped create 22 apartments and provided 1400 square metres of office accommodation.  In phase two, HLF investment of £850,000 has attracted an additional £3m investment, producing 13 retail units, 25 apartments, a dance studio, a restaurant and a boutique hotel. 

But this is just part of the story. The Walled City Partnership, which administers the HLF grant, does not operate in isolation. It works very closely with other partner organisations including the North West Development Office, City Centre Initiative, Transport NI, Derry City, Strabane District Council and other public and private bodies to ensure that this much needed investment is used strategically for the benefit of the city centre.

Open for business

Prior to HLF’s investment external shutters were common place in the city centre.  This contributed to an overall sense and feeling of being unsafe, unwelcoming and not open for business.  The insistence by the Walled City Partnership and HLF to remove these shutters allowed other schemes to follow suit and that has dramatically improved perceptions of the city on local, regional and national level.  In 2012, the city achieved Purple Flag status (the city centre equivalent of a beach’s Blue Flag) and we believe that this achievement is largely associated with the streetscape improvements delivered by the THI scheme.

City of Culture

In 2013 Derry~Londonderry became the first ever UK City of Culture.  We were able to welcome visitors to our city and celebrate a fantastic year with great pride knowing that we were presenting this historic city at its best.  Since then the occupancy rates in our hotels have increased year on year, proving that those who visited the city left feeling satisfied and as advocates for this city which continues to respect its built heritage.

The THI scheme was the stimulus that this city needed to begin to tell our new story.