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Project set to give £45m boost to Northern Ireland's deprived areas

By Donna Deeney

Published 16/09/2016

Urban Villages will be created in the Bogside, Fountain and Bishop Street in Derry
Urban Villages will be created in the Bogside, Fountain and Bishop Street in Derry

Five of the most socially deprived areas of Northern Ireland have been selected for a £45m project that will breathe new life into communities blighted by high unemployment.

Urban Villages will be created in the Bogside, Fountain and Bishop Street in Londonderry, as well as across Belfast, including Ardoyne and Greater Ballysillan, Colin, Lower Newtownards Road, Sandy Row, Donegall Pass and the Markets area.

The aim is to improve good relations and develop areas which have suffered economic and social challenges.

Launching the project in the Bogside yesterday, First Minister Arlene Foster said: "The Urban Villages Strategic Frameworks will unlock potential right across government to transform areas which have seen years of decline and deprivation."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness explained how the money given by the Executive will help the different areas.

He said: "This £45m of planned capital investment will help to transform the physical environment in these places. It will build capacity for the local community and foster positive community identities."

Jeanette Warke from the Cathredal Youth Club in the Fountain said the residents in the area are already seeing the benefits from the Urban Village scheme.

She said: "For 10 years we had tried to get funding for the play park here but thanks to this project we were able to get a magnificent play facility for the children.

"There is a lot of work to be done in the Fountain, not least with all the derelict and dilapidated houses and I was over the moon to find out that the Cathredal Youth Club will be extended and renovated too."

Community relations between people on either side of the interface between the Fountain and the Bogside have taken giant steps forward in recent years but Donna McCloskey from the Triax Partnership Organisation said this project will expand on that.

She explained: "Being one of the Urban Villages is going to make a huge difference to people on both side of the interface but an important part of it is normalising the flow of people from the Fountain to the Bogside and vice versa."

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