Partners involved in the £250m Derry and Strabane City Deal have welcomed the signing of the heads of terms agreement and have reinforced their commitment to working collectively to bring about growth, investment and prosperity to the area.
The key delivery partners of the City Deal and Inclusive Future Fund, led by Derry City and Strabane District Council include a university, college, health and social services trust and a clinical research and innovation centre.
A £210m funding package was secured through the City Deal and Inclusive Future Fund from the UK Government and Northern Ireland Executive, while Derry City and Strabane District Council and its project delivery partners are contributing additional funding of around £40m.
The impact of the investment delivered through the deal is forecast to triple the expected rate of employment growth, with an additional 7,000 jobs created by 2032 and Gross Value Added (GVA) is anticipated to have increased by £230m per annum by the end of the decade.
Since City Deals were enacted in 2012, several cities and regions across the UK have signed up to them and they give the city and its surrounding area certain powers and freedom to:
- Take charge and responsibility of decisions that affect their area.
- Do what they think is best to help businesses grow.
- Create economic growth.
- Decide how public money should be spent.
Key regeneration projects in the Derry City and Strabane Deal include the provision of mixed use civic, health, leisure and educational facilities, which form part of a major regeneration of Strabane town centre.
In Derry, the deal will fund the creation of an interactive maritime attraction and an enhanced walled city tourism experience, as well as major regeneration investment along the riverfront and Queens Quay, which will be closely linked to the expansion of Ulster University.
The provision of an integrated, council-wide, multi-skills employment pathways intervention support programme will be interlinked across all of the projects.
Among the strategic projects included in the investment package is the delivery of an innovation and research centre at Ulster University, which will focus on artificial intelligence, data analytics, robotics and automation respectively.
Commenting, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Brian Tierney said: “It is difficult not to overestimate the importance of the signing of the heads of terms. It means that the projects set out in the City Deal are now able to move to the next stage towards delivery and long-term sustainable growth through what is a very aspiring, creative and forward thinking range of innovative projects.
“Despite the challenges posed by Covid-19, through our combined efforts, we have been able to continue to make great strides throughout the pandemic on the development of the detail of the outline business cases for the projects. A huge amount of work has been going on behind the scenes over the past number of months to get to this stage of the process.
“We are delighted to have signed the heads of terms to allow us to move on to the delivery phase that will see this Government investment and an additional partner-led investment being rolled out into our region from later this year.
“A huge amount of work has been done to ensure our City Deal projects align closely with the short term to medium term economic needs of the region. We have already made considerable progress towards our goal of achieving inclusive growth and we believe that the City Deal will allow us to deliver a step change in the implementation of these ambitious plans.”
Derry City and Strabane District Council Chief Executive, John Kelpie added: “Derry City and Strabane already has the building blocks in place to draw people, business and investment to the region and £250m investment of this scale will empower us to achieve our goals in regenerating key areas and creating a city and town centre that is SMART, safe, accessible and vibrant, that can sustain people and jobs and bring a real sense of pride of place.
“Since the establishment of the new council, we have focused on the objectives set out in the Strategic Inclusive Growth Plan by delivering £100m on community projects to date.
“We strongly believe that the City Deal projects will help and strengthen the region’s business offer in growth sectors, such as health and life sciences, digital industries and SMART technology and will support our digital capabilities to support economic investment and regeneration, as well as boost tourism and culture. A funding package of this scale and magnitude will be felt across the wider north west region and beyond.”
“We strongly believe that the City Deal will bring life and people back into our city and town centres and that with this investment, we can bring life, culture and opportunity to people’s doorsteps and create an environment that is safer and more attractive to our communities right across the board.
“Key to assist us in achieving that will be works to improve our public transport and the regeneration of key areas across our council area and a range of public, private and third sector party investments to allow us to bring this to fruition.
“This is only the start of the process, the real work starts now. It is up to all of us to deliver each and every one of these exciting projects and it is vital that all partners work in collaboration with government to realise the City Deal’s amazing potential.”