It’s now time to get down to the business of delivering Derry’s “unique” transformation plan, says the Director of Strategy and Regeneration at Ilex.
With the policy stage all but wrapped up, Gerard McCleave outlines the key challenges facing the Regeneration Partnership Board to be set up to deliver the proposals - particularly identifying funding sources and winning the support of the public, private and community and voluntary sectors.
“Now we must look at who delivers it, where the money comes from and what period of time delivery will take.”
But he remains confident that despite the economic conditions, the long term plan to transform the city region as we know it economically, socially and physically will be realised.
“Yes it’s ambitious, yes it’s innovative, but it is real,” he says.
He outlines that a series of ‘catalyst champions’ are being identified to deliver the various catalyst projects included in the plan, working in close partnership with the disparate stakeholders in the city. “The catalyst champions will be identified to take the lead in the delivery of the projects such as Derry City Council with regard to the tourism strategy and the university with regard to the expansion of the university. But there will be backing for the catalyst champions for the respective projects from all the relevant partners.”
He adds that it is vitally important that the people of Derry “start to believe in themselves” in terms of the city’s ability to forge ahead with the programme for the long term benefit of the city.
He further believes that to begin to implement the proposals in the current economic climate, it is “critical that we change our mindsets and the way we do business”. “How we currently do business in the public, private, voluntary and community sectors has not got us to where we want to be with the current high unemployment statistics etc - now we all need to work together, all the stakeholders to transform the city.
“The economic climate also provides us with an opportunity as it makes us think differently about our real needs and make the best use of the resources available to us .”
He believes that joint venture initiatives and coalitions of local bodies in the city is way to Derry’s prosperity.
Mr McCleave believes that Derry can no longer afford to miss out on funding opportunities and must strengthen its relationship with the EU as identified in the Barosso Report. “There are many pots of money in Europe which Northern Ireland and Derry have not tapped into to.”
He adds: “We need to maximise our opportunities from the EU, the US and philanthropic organisations.”