‘Tangible progress’ on Derry’s growth plan

Just two years after Derry’s long-term Strategic Growth Plan was published there has been significant progress on making the district a more “prosperous, sustainable and equitable” place for everyone.

Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 12:06 pm

That’s according to Rachael Craig, Council’s Strategic Business Manager, who updated the Governance & Strategic Planning Committee on the ambitious community plan at its November meeting.

The SGP, which was published in November 2017 projects Derry’s population can grow to 156,200 between now and 2032.

This will result in £500m additional Gross Value Added (GVA), £100m additional tax revenue and £200m additional wages in the North West, it suggests.

The plan sets a range of cross-cutting targets that must be achieved to realise its ambitions on health, infrastructure, education, the environment, the economy and other areas, equitably.

In presenting a draft ‘Statement of Progress’ to members of the G&SP Committee, Ms. Craig said it had been felt that at this early stage it would have been too early to report any progress. This, happily, was not the case, however.

“This first performance report shows that early, tangible progress has been made across many of our outcomes and indicators.

“The plan is clearly being delivered and progress is more significant and visible than what would have been expected at this early stage. The City Deal announcement in May 2019 was also a key success within this reporting period as it will assist funding and advancing some of the most significant and transformative projects within the Strategic Growth Plan,” she reported.

It is acknowledged that making real progress on some of the chronic issues affecting the district, around health inequalities, for example, is a long term project.

“Achieving real and lasting success will take time. Advancing outcomes by tackling disadvantage, health inequalities, skills gaps, housing stress and regional imbalance cannot be done by Community Planning alone and, indeed, within a two yeartimescale. The Strategic Growth Plan is a 25 year plan and this is the first reporting milestone in its implementation. The next milestone will be the review and report of the plan which is due in 2021,” she stated.

SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly said: “It’s two years and we have taken a strong first step.”

He referred to the ground work put in by Derry City and Strabane District Council’s predecessor Council, Derry City Council, through its ‘One plan’.

“When we started off we had a lot of useful work done. DC&SDC are well ahead of the other ten councils,” said Colr. Reilly, before pointing to his belief in the necessity of taking seats at Westminster and reviving Stormont to realise the ambitions of the SGP.

People Before Profit Councillor Shaun Harkin dismissed some of the SGP’s projections as “bedtime stories” and “fantasies”. He said: “For a lot of people in Derry things are going backward.” He pointed to welfare reform and said a “radical change of direction is needed at Westminster.”