The potential of the North West Regional Science Park must be maximised through the regeneration Fort George, increased inward investment and university expansion, SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood has said.
Speaking ahead of today’s official opening of the European Union-funded complex, Mr Eastwood said the cross-border facility presented “great opportunities” for Derry. However, he said the potential could not be fulfilled without action from the Executive on regenerating the entire Fort George site, a special focus on promoting inward investment by knowledge-based companies and increasing the city’s graduate base.
Mr Eastwood said: “The opening of the North West Regional Science Park is an important development in revitalising the west bank waterfront of Derry. However, while today marks a real step forward in the regeneration of our city it raises questions over the lack of progress in redeveloping the remainder of the vast Fort George site.
“A commitment was made in the Programme for Government in terms of the development of Fort George as envisaged by the One Plan, yet there has been no physical development other than the EU-funded science park and the Hibernia Telehouse. All avenues must be explored to allow the fast-tracking of development at Fort George as the site has the potential to be Derry’s answer to Belfast’s thriving Titanic Quarter.”
Mr Eastwood added: “The new North West Regional Science Park provides an ideal opportunity to drive high value employment in the North West and fuel our digital economy.
“It is now important that increased support is given by Invest Northern Ireland and the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment to attract companies which provide high end employment at the complex.
“The expansion of Magee campus in line with the One Plan strategy will be key to the success of the science park and the growth of the wider economy. In particular an enlarged pool of graduates in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects will help ensure the Fort George site attracts major inward investment by knowledge-based companies.”