There was great excitement in the Shantallow area today as the long-awaited official opening of the new Shantallow Community Centre took place, led by the Mayor of Derry and Strabane Alderman Graham Warke.The £2.4m state of the art development replaces the former centre which served the community for over four decades on the same site. The project has been delivered by Derry City and Strabane District Council with £1m in funding from the Department for Communities through its Neighbourhood Renewal Investment Fund.Speaking at the event, Alderman Warke acknowledged the significant effort to deliver the project despite the challenges faced during the pandemic, and after many years of planning. He also praised community partners in the area for helping to shape the plans for the facility to meet the needs of local people.”This is a great day for the Shantallow area and one which has been much anticipated for a long time,” he declared. “Shantallow Community Centre has been at the heart of the community for decades, serving an array of functions and serving as a base for many local organisations. This new facility will become an even more important hub, accommodating a wide range of activities, and providing a modern and welcoming space for people of all ages in the area to enjoy.”Investment in local communities is vitally important, and I want to thank the Minister for continuing to support the provision of fit for purpose facilities, particularly in the most deprived areas. This centre follows the delivery of a brand new community hub in Top of the Hill, and will soon be followed by a new hub in Galliagh,delivering vital services in community areas. I want to acknowledge the work of all involved in the delivery of this important capital project, as well as the support of our community partners throughout the process.”The original Shantallow Community Centre was first built in 1967, with the expectation that it would serve the local community for ten years. It was home to numerous groups over the decades, hosting Irish dancing classes, youth discos, bingo, bowls and a whole host of social events, from dinner dances to luncheon clubs. 53 years later the £10,000 building was finally demolished in 2020 to make way for the new state of the art centre which features a new sports hall, a multi-purpose room, staff changing facilities and fitness suite.Welcoming the opening, Council’s Director of Health and Community Karen McFarland, said: “I am delighted that we have reached this milestone today. This vibrant new facility will significantly improve the community infrastructure in the Outer North Community Area, serving a wide range of needs and being utilised by people of all ages.”It’s just one project within Council’s wider Capital Development Programme which prioritises the transformation of local Community areas, as laid out in the City and District’s Local Strategic Growth Plans. Thanks to Council’s Capital Development team, the local community organisations and all who played a part in realising this vision for the Shantallow area.”Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said: “The provision of this funding through my Neighbourhood Renewal Programme, will be of great benefit to those who live in the local area. This £1m investment from the Department for Communities provides fantastic new facilities that will improve community based services and will help to improve the quality of life for local people for years to come. “This is one of several major investments that my department has made in the North West recently, including £1m for the Top of the Hill Community Centre. I thank all partners for their dedication and collaborative approach across the public and community sector. I am delighted to continue to deliver for the local community.”Cathal McCauley, manager of Shantallow Community Residents Association, who hold a Shared Management Agreement for the Centre with DCSDC, said: “There has been a fantastic buzz in the community over the last year as local people could see the new building materialise. This new building now provides us with greater opportunities to deliver vital community services in an area which suffers from extreme levels of deprivation.”The local community are delighted with how brilliant it has turned out and would like to thank all those who helped us along the way; other local community organisations, the Greater Shantallow Area Partnership & ONNP/Growth Partnerships, Northside Dev Trust, Dept. for Communities/N.W. Development Office, and Council. The NWDO and Council officers have all been extremely helpful throughout the process. We also want to thank all our local political representatives who have supported us and this project over the past number of years.”