Derry and Strabane Council has agreed to spend £20m to bring the redevelopment of Brandywell Stadium and a number of other long-awaited capital projects a step closer.
Council bosses have now urged the government and other players to step up to the plate to make sure the plans for large scale projects now come to fruition.
The significant funding boost in capital expenditure was announced at this week’s meeting of the Council’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee.
The council is also now set to start market testing in respect of selling off the Lisnagelvin Lesiure Centre site and the Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau building.
New investment gathered by the local authority will bring Council’s total capital investment programme to £64.416m, half of which comes from external sources.
Most of this money has already been committed to various large projects such as the completed Foyle Arena, and the ongoing regeneration of Brooke Park and development of the Waterside Greenway.
Now, subject to confirmation of external funding, the council has allocated funding to enable the delivery of a further £20m of signature projects.
These further commitments include the redevelopment of the Brandywell Stadium, the Melvin 3G pitch in Strabane, and the delivery of a number of new community play parks across Derry and Strabane.
The recommendations were brought before the Governance and Strategic Planning Committee by the Capital Projects and Corporate Programme Planning Group, which was established to monitor all major projects.
Speaking after the announcement, Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council, John Kelpie, said that while the funding was significant in bringing these projects a step closer, there must now be a strong focus on securing the external funding needed to deliver fully on Council’s capital investment plans.
He said the new announcement of funding was “particularly significant in the face of the budgetary cuts which have threatened to compromise the valuable work that has already gone into community projects, local service delivery and the economic revival of the region”.
“Council’s key focus remains on economic, social and environmental regeneration with specific emphasis on an ambitious capital investment programme,” Mr Kelpie said.
“We remain committed to securing the additional resources needed to strengthen and transform Derry and Strabane.
“I would now urge central government to step up and deliver on their commitments to the region.”
Chairperson of the Governance and Strategic Planning Committee, Councillor Karina Carlin said: “Today’s announcement is extremely welcome in the wake of such stringent funding cuts over recent months. As a district we face many challenges in terms of securing inward investment and the economic regeneration of the area, and we will continue to lobby central government to support the region, which we believe has been unfairly impacted by these deficits.”