Derry City & Strabane District Council has launched ambitious finalised plans to create 15,000 new jobs and transform the city and district’s economy.
The blueprint for Derry and Strabane’s future been developed with hundreds of experts hailing from various fields.
The new fully costed plan’s main aims include slashing unemployment and securing a raft of infrastructure projects including an expanded Magee campus, and a third road bridge at Newbuildings linked into a new ring route around Derry, which will connect the long-awaited A5 Dublin, A6 Belfast and A2 Buncrana Road upgraded routes.
The new Templemore Sports Complex has been included, as well as the expansion of the city’s public transport and greenways network. A new family-friendly wet weather attraction and an “iconic” new tourist attraction are also to be scoped. Tackling social issues such as mental health and drug and alcohol addiction locally is another major focus of the plan.
Speaking at the Council’s Governance and Strategic Planning meeting in Derry on Tuesday, Council‘s Change Manager Rachelle Craig said that securing approval to launch the plan was “a significant milestone”.
Orla Rafferty from the council’s marketing department meanwhile outlined how the plan was being launched digitally this week with a series of videos highlighting the ambitious project to be sent out on social media as well as billboards and bus shelter wraps as well as cinema advertising.
Rachelle Craig said the launch signalled the shift in focus towards delivery. A Strategic Growth Partnership, which is involved in the implementation, will meet again in February to discuss next steps.
Sinn Fein councillor Mickey Cooper said that in terms of quality of the work that has gone into the project, the expectations of people had been raised significantly. “The next question arises about delivery and that will be more and more the question we are asked, not just us but also our partners,” he said, adding: “We are going in the right direction, but we need the resource.”
Also expressing his party’s support for the 2017-2032 Plan, SDLP Councillor Brian Tierney said it was vital this was “more than just a plan”. He said that there was a need to manage heightened expectations and “not get carried away”.
“We saw what came out of the back of the One Plan and hopefully we have learned lessons from that,” he said.
Colr. Tierney said that he had “no faith” that Tory Direct Rule Ministers will deliver on Derry’s ambitious new growth plan.
Colr. Tierney said he had some faith in local Ministers in being able to help progress the wide-ranging projects detailed in the Plan, but added that it was “very clear” that some form of direct rule was on its way in the north.
“We want to see the Strategic Growth Plan work and we have very grave concerns around Direct Rule and the impacts that will have,” he said.
“If we are looking at a Tory government trying to help and deliver for the people of Derry and Strabane then I have no faith in that at all.”
Those behind the new Strategic Growth Plan have said the ongoing process will “drive inclusive growth” across Derry and Strabane.
Derry & Strabane’s Strategic Growth Partnership will now continue its works to help secure the funding and commitments needed to implement the proposals.
The collaboration involves the Council, government departments, elected representatives, the community and voluntary sectors and the business sector working together.
In its statement of intent, the Partnership said: “Our vision is a thriving, prosperous and sustainable city and district with equality of opportunity for all.”
The Committee endorsed the plan on the proposal, seconded by UUP Councillor Derek Hussey.