East of the City of Derry on the River Foyle are the Foyle Bridge and Culmore Point and it is here on the northern banks of the river that the Eden Project Foyle will be located.
The project, developed by the Foyle River Gardens charity, is an ambitious plan to transform the banks of the river, linking the Boom Hall and Brook Hall estates and giving the public access to previously inaccessible land. Boom Hall, derelict now, was a grand house built in 1779 where the boom was anchored during the 1689 Siege of Derry. Brook Hall dates from around the same time and is currently a well-maintained demesne.
This exciting development was officially launched this week and promises to be a new riverside cultural and environmental tourist attraction which will transform the waterfront. Eden Project Foyle would be a beacon of cultural tourism and a community asset helping to drive social, economic and environmental regeneration in the city.
The artist’s impressions of the proposed project centrepiece show a spectacular building inspired by Neolithic architecture and connected with a network of walkways. Inside the building would be a performance area and play spaces. Visitors would be able to walk on the roof and take zipwires down to the walkways. The structure would be nestled within the trees and inspired by the forest, with a timber and thatch construction which is light, efficient and low-carbon.
The development intends to rejuvenate the site extending from the Foyle Bridge towards Culmore Point and plans include walled gardens, tree-top and floating walkways, a water activity centre and play areas. The 100-hectare (250-acre) site includes 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles) of the River Foyle’s bank.
Eden Project International and Foyle River Gardens estimate that the project will cost £67m and will open in summer 2023, with construction beginning in the next 18 months and is projected to directly create more than 170 jobs onsite and within the local supply chain, supporting a further 2,057 from off-site visitor spend, and inject £62m into the regional economy every year.
A charitable trust, the Foyle River Gardens, will own the project which will be operated in partnership with the award-winning environmental and educational charity the Eden Project. The partners were encouraged by the UK and Irish Governments including the project in the recent New Decade, New Approach deal on restoring powersharing to the Northern Ireland Executive.
Eamonn Deane, Chair of the Foyle River Gardens charity, said: “Eden Project Foyle brings together a network of local partners and supporters from universities, businesses, statutory and social organisations to address issues which affect each of us. The relationship with the Eden Project has been built up over the last three years and we are delighted to be able to move this project forward together.”
Sir Tim Smit, Co-founder of the Eden Project, said: “We are hugely excited to be working with the Foyle River Gardens in the creation of Eden Project Foyle and believe completely in its transformative capacity to draw visitors to the North West and become a global must-see destination. “Having our project named by the Irish and UK Governments in their New Decade, New Approach document is a huge vote of confidence for the team and we are looking forward to working with our partners in Derry and Donegal to bring this project forward.”
Eden Project is an educational charity and its main goal is to educate the public about the natural world. Eden Project International is the global division of the Eden Project, a landmark attraction in Cornwall which has welcomed more than 21 million visitors and contributed more than £2bn to the regional economy in south-west England.