Almost full steam ahead for Londonderry railway station revamp

A computer-generated image of the plans
A computer-generated image of the plans

Translink has declared itself “delighted” that councillors on the Derry City and Strabane local authority have approved proposals to redevelop the train station for the city.

The decision was given the green light by the council’s planning committee on Wednesday night – but the move to revamp the station in the city’s Waterside is not universally popular.

It was passed by a margin of nine votes (the UUP, DUP and Sinn Fein) to two – with the pair of objectors being SDLP councillors John Boyle and Martina Gardiner.

It now needs ratification by the full council on March 28.

The Grade B1 listed station had been designed by renowned architect John Lanyon in the late 19th century, and was a target for the IRA during the Troubles.

The redevelopment is significant enough to have featured last month in the UK-wide satirical magazine Private Eye, which seldom delves into Northern Irish matters.

In its regular architecture column, it said: “Derry’s old Waterside Railway Station is the only surviving Victorian railway terminus building in Northern Ireland. Two bombings in the 1970s failed to destroy its charms, but campaigners fear that a refurbishment by public transport firm Translink may yet finish the job.”

The magazine described the plans as allowing people to catch both buses and trains from the station, creating new platforms outside the station which would obstruct river views, and replacing the current “ugly glass atrium” with another glazed foyer which it said has been likened to a glass shop front.

Original parts of the building including the clock tower would be restored.

Translink has said the plans could boost tourism and make the area more attractive to business.

Assuming full permission is granted by the council, Translink has said that it expects work to begin in the second half of this year.

Previously Jim McBride from the group Into the West – which describes itself as campaigning for improved rail links between Coleraine and Londonderry – has said that around 3,000 people had backed a petition raising concerns about the development.