Derry sports centre in doubt over funding

Derry City Council
Image caption Derry City Council

There are fears work on a new multi million pound sports centre in Londonderry could be delayed because of funding issues.

The major development in St Columb's Park in the Waterside was approved by local councillors last year.

BBC Radio Foyle has learned that Derry City Council needs another £1million to complete the project and is now reviewing its finances.

The plans include a new fitness centre and a multi use sports hall.

Wrestling and mountaineering facilities are also planned, as well as Ireland's first ever judo centre of excellence.

A second phase will include a swimming pool that will replace the nearby Lisnagelvin Leisure Centre.

It will be demolished along with the existing smaller leisure centre in St Columb's Park as part of the deal.

Last November councillors passed the plans. On Thursday council officials charged with overseeing the build briefed senior party representatives on the project.

In a document seen by BBC Radio Foyle, Derry City Council - which has already pledged £3million from its leisure development fund to help finance the project - said another one million pounds is needed.

They said this is because of a rise in the cost of materials and labour as well as fuel prices.

Council officials said they would be seeking approval to increase its contribution from £3million - £4million pounds and said it hoped to recoup part of that additional money from the sale of the Lisnagelvin site and the nearby Helipad site.

Council officials said the submissions from its original tender were "significantly" over the projected budget and it had asked the bidders to come back with reduced costing - what it called a Bill of Reductions.

It said as a result of that exercise, it now had a preferred tender - the contractor Tracey Brothers - who had put the overall cost of the new sports campus at £7,675,195.

The council document said the initial cost was £6.6million. The council said its design team had now been instructed to work with Tracey Brothers to further reduce the scheme's costs by £350,000.

It has emerged there may now be £750,000 worth of government funding available for the new building to coincide with Derry's year as City of Culture.

Derry City Council hopes to have this sports campus open by October 2013 and council officials told the party representatives that the building has been identified as a large venue for the end of the City of Culture year.

The plan is to include a venue with a 2000 seating capacity and standing capacity for 2800 people. The council's briefing paper suggests this money, if approved, would be on top of the extra £1million still needed to fund the works.

In a statement Derry City Council confirmed that the council is currently engaged in reviewing detailed design and cost options for the North West Sports Campus.

The Council remains committed to advancing and delivering this capital project for the city and region.