Make Ebrington site a creative powerhouse
A child of the city, now long departed, recently I'd the good fortune to be invited to Londonderry. My host was keen to show me the transformation of Ebrington Barracks, once US Sea Eagle, and the view from there across the new Foyle footbridge to the Guildhall and the walled city beyond. We ambled our way through to the vast parade ground, past a whole series of proud but empty building blocks.
I was impressed by the restoration work. Listed buildings, my host said. But they were silent and empty. Which begged the question – where are the people who should be inside them, bringing them to life?
We moved onto the parade ground, overseen by the former HQ/Officers Mess and girded on both sides by more grand buildings. Reminiscent of an Oxbridge college quad, here is a natural amphitheatre that has already been redeveloped for staging outdoor events. An inspiring space, but only on exceptional occasions.
So is this a white elephant? Let's turn this majestic place into a new kind of creative powerhouse, home to and workplace for training the next generation of Facebookers or Apple developers, Googlers or Twitterers.
The leaders of these businesses know it will take something special to stay ahead of the game globally and that they need a dedicated supply of able young people – just the sort who should be bringing this place to life. Why not offer them an inspiring ready-made campus for their own university in the heart of a city committed to regeneration?