MEMBERS of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee have been updated on progress achieved since securing £105m of funding towards a City Deal and the City and Region’s Strategic Growth projects.
The City Deal proposal is an important component of the overall funding of the City and District’s Strategic Inclusive Growth Plan.
The Council’s Chief Executive John Kelpie in a detailed report outlined the background to securing the announcement.
And he advised members of the work that has been ongoing since the announcement with Government and key partners to agree the funding process, the scaling and prioritization of the projects, the governance structures and resources around governance and the processes and timelines involved.
In terms of funding, it was outlined to members that in addition to the £105m UK Government funding Council and stakeholders would be working on the assumption that this full amount would be matched by NI Government however, they were advised that no absolute commitment could be provided in the absence of a regional government.
He said discussions with third party stakeholders including the Irish Government were progressing positively.
Mr Kelpie added that if all the funding elements are in place it is hoped the overall investment injection would be in excess of £300m.
In relation to the contribution from Council, Mr Kelpie said any funding was dependent on the progression of all other funding streams, overall impact and affordability but assured members that Council’s focus will be investment and regeneration in leisure, civic/commercial projects in Strabane and Foyle Street, Derry.
Outlining to members the strategic projects to be included in the City Deal, Mr Kelpie said the core focus of the UK Government £50M City Deal funding has remained the delivery of the centres of innovation and excellence in data analytics (CARL) and robotics and automation (CIDRA) together with the key smart/ digital City and Region initiatives.
He said revised outline business cases were currently being prepared in respect of these priority projects.
In relation to the prioritisation of the Future Fund of £55m and the further anticipated match funding from NI Government and other partners, the Council Chief Executive said emphasis remained on advancing with the key projects included in the original bid.
These include the Graduate Medical School and the further expansion of the Ulster University Magee Campus along the riverfront, as well as the delivery of a Personalised Medicine Centre of Excellence (T-HRIVE) at Ulster University and Altnagelvin.
Other key projects include the provision of mixed use civic, health, leisure and educational facilities as part of a major regeneration of Strabane Town Centre, as well as major regeneration investment along the riverfront and Queens Quay in Derry closely linked to the expansion of the University.
The provision of an integrated, Council-wide, multi-skills employment pathways intervention support programme was also outlined by Mr Kelpie as a key priority for this fund.
He also outlined the Council’s commitment to securing funding and Government commitment to advance with the A2 Buncrana Road project and other connectivity initiatives including rail, City of Derry Airport, the A5 and A6, together with the expansion of Magee would continue in parallel.
John Kelpie said Council was continuing to work with Government to agree governance structures and said analysis would be carried out to look at how City Deal packages were delivered in other parts of the UK.
Concluding Mr Kelpie said the next steps of the process was to work to advance the Heads of Terms with Government and seek approval on the key projects.
He told members he anticipated this to take six to eight months and the work would be carried out in tandem with talks with Government on the parallel process to advance with the next stages of the match funding and Future Fund monies.
Further details of the report are available on the Council website at https://bit.ly/2Yrcy6L