Plan to transform Derry to be launched

Derry's economic future could be transformed if the plans are now brought to fruition.
Derry's economic future could be transformed if the plans are now brought to fruition.

A finalised plan to create over 15,000 jobs and transform the local economy has been endorsed and is expected to be launched within weeks.

The Strategic Growth Plan details an ambitious programme which could, if realised in full, slash unemployment across Derry and Strabane to below the Northern Ireland average and bring in an additional £200m a year in wages.

The council will now progress with its efforts to secure a ‘City Deal’ from the government, which would bring major investment and help realise the proposals.

The Strategic Growth Plan had been developed by the council with input from 750 organisations and over 5,000 experts as well as citizens.

It has now been adapted to include feedback from over 200 respondents to public consultation and the finalised version was endorsed by the local Strategic Growth Partnership during their meeting at the Guildhall yesterday.

The plans include the expansion of Magee; getting the A5 Derry to Dublin, A6 Derry to Belfast, A2 Buncrana Road projects completed and a third road bridge for Derry.

The need to create more jobs and reduce outward migration, provide better transport links and expand Magee and North West Regional College were among the main points raised by consultees.

Council Chief Executive John Kelpie said the finished plan will be launched next month, before the Partnership regroups in February to look at its implementation.

Council Business, Support and Change Manager Rachael Craig said feedback had shown “overwhelming support for the Growth Plan and the aspirations in it.”

Mayor Maolíosa McHugh said: “What’s so exciting about this process is we are all part of it and it is giving us an insight into what our future can be like,” he said.

He added that securing a City Deal would “directly impact on the delivery of key strategic projects which will act as game changers in the growth of this region.”

From next month, aspects of the plan will feature on billboards, buses and bus shelters and during cinema screenings in Derry and Strabane, while it will also be promoted on social media under the banner heading ‘Making It Happen.’

Council’s Head of Strategic Finance & Funding Alfie Dallas said that £3.4billion of additional capital investment from the public and private sectors would be needed between now and 2032 to realise the plan fully.

Speaking about a potential City Deal, he said that there has been others in Britain but none in Northern Ireland as yet. He added that Belfast was also working towards a City Deal, which is an agreement between the government and a city region. It gives the city and region powers to create economic growth, help business growth, take charge of decisions and decide how public money should be spent.