By Hugh Dougherty and Robin Jones
CONTROVERSIAL EU-funded £27 million plans to redevelop Northern Ireland’s only remaining Victorian-era station have been given the go-ahead despite public opposition.
Translink’s proposal will see the redevelopment of Londonderry’s Grade B listed Waterside station – despite nearly 50 letters of opposition and a petition organised by rail lobby group Into The West and signed by thousands of people.
Local campaigners said that the plans, which will not see trains run into the complete former train shed, but terminate at platforms outside the building, are selling the historic city short by failing to provide a historic gateway for both the city and north west region.
The Ulster Architectural Society also backed pleas to redraw the plans to make full use of the 1877-built station’s trainshed, by bringing trains inside once again.
Translink, the operator of Northern Ireland Railways, proposes to refurbish the trainshed, but to use it as a passenger facility space with rooms for business and community use, with displays on the heritage of the station and of the Derry-Coleraine- Belfast railway line.
However, on April 11, Derry City and Strabane Council approved the scheme despite the protests, to the dismay of campaigners.
Jim McBride of Into The West, said: “We welcome the plans for a multi-modal transport hub and all parties involved agree on that. What we don’t agree with is the current plans which will fail to highlight and positively use the railway heritage features of the station and provide Derry, which once had three terminal stations, with a worthy gateway to the city and the North West by fully restoring its last, remaining one.
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