NI 2050: Magee, third bridge, health hub and Brandywell among priorities say Derry Colrs

The historic imbalance experienced by Derry and the wider region over the decades must be addressed, Councillors warned as they discussed a new investment strategy.

Members of Derry and Strabane Council’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee spoke as they approved a draft consultation response to the Investment Strategy 2050 by the Strategic Investment Board.

The NI Executive has launched a vision for infrastructure and a strategy, setting out its priorities for investment over the next 30 years. 

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SDLP Colr. Rory Farrell said: “We need to see Magee expanded. I don’t know how many times I’ve said it in this chamber but I’m going to say it again just for the record. We also need to see expansion of the North West Regional College because if you look at the number of students per head of population, it’s one of the lowest. It’s the lowest city on the island of Ireland.

The Chief Executive of Derry & Strabane Council John Kelpie.

“There’s a proposed cityside medical hub at Fort George, there’s proposed expansion at Altnagelvin over the next 10 to 15 years and there’s the campaign for the detox centre which is still live and that issue isn’t going away. We need to see the Brandywell expanded, we need to see a world class tourism project focussed around the Walled City and we need to see some sort of regional gallery to entice tourists.”

He also spoke of the aspirations for ‘a ring road around this city and ‘a third road bridge’ adding: “The airport and the port are going to be really critical in terms of infrastructure.”

“In terms of decentralisation, I know we have some government employees based in this city but I would like to see a government department based here. I’m not going to be prescriptive, it could be based on the Northern Ireland Executive or in the event of a successful border poll we could have an Irish Government department based in this city.”

Sinn Féin Colr. Conor Heaney said that ‘this council’s voice is heard strongly and loudly’. He added: “It’s important that this council’s voice is heard in both investment plans on both sides of the border as we take it forward because as we all know this region is totally interconnected.”

The city of Derry. Lisa McGee, the creator and writer of Derry Girls, has described the show as a love letter to her beautiful native city and says Derry is very much a character in its own right in the hit series. Undoubtedly the scenes shot in Derry from the ancient City Walls, to the Limewood Street/ Beechwood Street area, Creggan to the Bogside, the Waterside and beyond add greatly to the authenticity and the look and feel of the show. An ancient city situated on the border between the north and south of Ireland in the north west corner of Ireland, Derry and its hinterland in Counties Donegal, Derry, Tyrone and Antrim are becoming increasingly popular tourist destinations with ancient sites, great nightlife and stunning coastal scenery along the Wold Atlantic Way and the Causeway Coastal Route. The city, which has a population of around 110,000 people has a long and chequered history and its story is in many ways the history of Ireland over the centuries.

Council Chief Executive John Kelpie said that ‘substantive submissions’ were made through the NW Regional Development Group at the time Ireland 2040 was being reviewed. He added that the submissions were made to the respective department in the Irish Government positioning the needs and priorities of the North West City Region into the document. “Anyone who looks at that document would see the prominence that is being given to the Derry/Strabane/Letterkenny urban area and the surrounding areas within the rest of the council area and Donegal County Council area. I think there is the opportunity to build on that.”

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PBP Colr. Shaun Harkin said: “The legacy of neglect for Derry, our district and the north west is well established. It’s there in our deprivation statistics, it’s there in our infrastructure and the continued failure on the commitment to deliver 10,000 students at Magee. We need to shift the way Stormont thinks about economic development, how to value work and how we are going to develop a society that everybody can benefit from.”

Members unanimously approved the draft response.

Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter