'City Deal' key to delivering objectives of Derry 'Growth Plan', partnership told

John Kelpie.
John Kelpie.

A wide-ranging umbrella of statutory bodies, community organisations and political representatives committed to the advancement of Derry and Strabane have been told that a ‘City Deal' is key to delivering the aims of the district's 'Growth Plan’.

Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Strategic Growth Partnership met in the Guildhall on Thursday for a progress briefing on the City Growth Deal for the region.

Council Chief Executive John Kelpie told members that significant progress had already been made in drafting the overarching Strategic Outline Cases (SOC) for a City Deal required for each of the proposed critical catalyst projects.

He explained that once complete, these will be presented to the respective lead Government departments with a view to agreement on a Heads of Terms for a City Deal for the Derry~Londonderry City Region.

“Much progress has already been made on the Strategic Outline Cases which are the next step in the bid process, and significant resources have been committed to driving this forward,” he revealed.

“This is very much a collective deal based on the aspirations of all our strategic partners and that cohesion will be key to its success.

“We have also been liaising with our partners in Belfast City Council to ensure the two plans are complementary in their ambitions and there is no overlap, as the totality of both these propositions have the potential to transform the entire region.

“The City Deal proposition takes forward the big game changing projects for the City and District and at its core is developing our ability to drive innovation and particularly digital innovation. We already have a number of strong innovation projects underway in the city, for example, the Cognitive Analytics Research Lab (CARL) at Ulster University and the Centre for Stratified Medicine at Altnagelvin, which are delivering ground breaking work.

“But it’s important to stress that a City Growth Deal is very much a mechanism for delivering the overall objectives of the Strategic Growth Plan here, which will bring about lasting change in terms of the health and wellbeing of the entire region.

“We will continue that work over the coming months, and will continue to lobby the Treasury and the relevant government departments to give a firm commitment - we hope in the forthcoming budget statement - that formal negotiations can now begin on our City Growth Deal.”

Among the projects discussed at the meeting was the Our Future Foyle Project, an ambitious £25m plan to transform the city’s riverfront area.

Members received a presentation from Gavin Gribben, Royal College of Art, who gave an overview of the aspirations of the project in terms of improving the health and wellbeing of the city, and changing perceptions of the riverfront area.

Members also received an update on the Carnegie Embedding Wellbeing in Northern Ireland Project, following a prestigious International Seminar on Wellbeing in Northern Ireland held in New York earlier this month.

The organisation works to improve the lives of people throughout the UK and Ireland through influencing policy and partnership working, and council officers and partners had the opportunity to find out more about the experiences of other countries in terms of taking creative approaches to improving wellbeing.

You can find information on meetings of the Strategic Growth Partnership, and also more on the Strategic Growth Plan at growderrystrabane.com