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Council to progress discussions for major investment through City Deal

03 October 2017

Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee today endorsed recommendations to take active steps to further progress a City Deal for the City and region.
Members attending the monthly meeting of the Committee received a full report from Council’s Lead Finance Officer Alfie Dallas, updating them on the development of a City Deal for the region. The report highlighted that Council is in a strong position to progress with discussions on a City Deal following the recent completion of the Strategic Inclusive Growth Plan. 
The report set out what a deal would look like in accordance with the objectives outlined in Council’s Strategic Growth Plan as well as the wider regional objectives set out in the NI Executive’s Fresh Start Agreement.
The Committee heard that a Growth Deal would provide the strong partnership intervention and strategically focused local investment needed to successfully activate the transformation of the economic fortunes of the North West economic region. 
Between now and 2032, the Strategic Growth Plan targets an increase in jobs from 61,100 to 75,600 reducing unemployment in line with the NI average, an increase in population to 156,200 resulting in £500m additional GVA, £100m additional tax revenue and £200m additional wages. 
The primary focus for a First Phase City Deal has to be on those investment priorities within the plan that present the greatest potential for job creation, leveraging of private sector investment and to build the foundations that will support and create opportunities that will contribute the most to sustainable growth and impact on GVA. Following extensive economic analysis, the key catalyst projects identified are the A5 Western Transport Corridor and the completion of the A6 Derry to Belfast Road. The expansion of Ulster University and NWRC, and the A2 economic corridor are also identified as essential catalysts for change, as well as transformative urban regeneration schemes in Strabane Town centre and along the riverfront in Derry, and the delivery of a major iconic tourism attractor for the region. Mr Dallas added that these projects accounted for over 75% of the required additional employment and over 80% of the additional GVA figures targeted by the Strategic Growth Plan.
“The need for local city deals is clearly outlined in the terms of the UK government’s Confidence and Supply Agreement which affirms the government’s commitment to ‘working with the Executive and other stakeholders to work towards a comprehensive and ambitious set of city deals across N. Ireland to boost investment and help unlock the full potential of N. Ireland,” Mr Dallas told the Committee.
“If there is agreement today, Council would seek to engage with government with a view to securing a ‘deal in principle’ by the Chancellor’s autumn statement in mid-November this year. Officers are developing on a summary Statement of Intent document that will form the basis of discussion with Government setting out the above Investment Priorities and their associated costs.”
Further work will then be undertaken to progress business cases detailing the benefits of key projects to the District and the wider regional and national economy, he added.
Members heard that according to the strong evidence base provided by the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre, the proposed investment would result in significant economic benefits for the region in terms of job creation, and population growth. 
Members agreed to commence discussions with Government, the Northern Ireland Executive, the Treasury, the Department for Communities, and N. Ireland Office subject to approval at a meeting of full Council later in the month.