Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Newbuildings residents looking to the future

An arts and regeneration project has been launched in a Co Londonderry village.

The Mayor, Helen Quigley, cut the ribbon on the Derry City Council-led 'Future's Present - a Village Vision' at Newbuildings Community and Environmental Association.

Children and adults in the area have mooted plans, including a village square and a caravan park.

Belfast artist Helen McAleer - who worked with schools, youth groups, history and ecology groups as well as women and representatives from all local groups and organisations - facilitated the process.

The arts activity was delivered between September and November as part of Derry City Council's Arts and Regeneration Programme aimed at encouraging people living and working in the area to help create a vision of how they would like to see local spaces developed.

Praising the project, the Mayor said it was a wonderful example of partnership between Derry City Council the Arts Council for Northern Ireland, the Newbuildings Community and Environmental Association and local residents, community organisations and schools.

"This is an excellent project which encourages the local community to take an active part in the development of their area," she said.

"The arts are an excellent way to allow the local community of Newbuildings to express themselves creatively and have their ideas and thoughts acknowledged through the publication of their vision."

Alice McCartney, Arts and Regeneration officer with Derry City Council, explained that as part of the process, the artist worked with each group, gathering and developing ideas from within the community.

Helen then found inventive ways of presenting the ideas of children, adults and organisations on a feedback day so the community could look at the diverse and imaginative ideas within their community, ranging from footbridges, sculpture, a village square and even a caravan park.

The Mayor added that community-led initiatives such as this were a wonderful way of involving the community in the development of their area.

"It gives people a sense of ownership and pride in the work they have done and in the area that they live," she said.

Over the coming months the vision created will be made available to statutory and community organisations responsible for the delivery of neighborhood renewal and will act as a model of good practice and a potential starting point for the inclusion of the local vision in the overall development of the Newbuildings area.

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