Growth Partnership looks ahead to challenges of 2023
10 February 2023
Derry and Strabane’s Strategic Growth Partnership came together today in the Everglades for the first meeting of 2023 for the body which oversees the delivery of the Strategic Growth Plan for the City and District.
Infrastructure and connectivity were top of the agenda as members received a Strategic Rail update detailing the work of the Rail Working group, including ongoing discussions with the Department for Infrastructure, the Irish Government and local rail lobby groups to progress the ambitions for enhanced rail connectivity from the North West to the rest of the country.
The partnership was briefed on a recent consultation initiated by the Department for Infrastructure on the A5 Western Transport Corridor. The importance of the A5WTC was highlighted, and members were reminded that an economic forecast completed by Ulster University Policy Centre has shown that the completion of this strategic project will assist in achieving the economic outputs and impacts of the Strategic Growth Plan, and assist in addressing the social, economic deprivation and balanced regional development of the wider North West region.
Partners also received a progress report on the City Deal/Inclusive Future Fund programme of projects detailing outline business case development and project specific key issues and considerations to date. Strategic partners heard that while significant progress had been made in the Outline Business Cases in line with targets, financial challenges remained a major hurdle to their successful completion.
Spiralling construction and energy prices, coupled with rises in inflation have led to significant increases in costs, and many of the projects are therefore now being re-assessed in terms of scope and scale resulting in most cases, re-design and re-analysis of options, layouts and costings. The Partnership was told that it has become necessary to pause development of some sections of project OBCs while project partners consider options, alternatives and potential solutions to the current project financial challenges. Members were given an update on each of the key projects, which include the Ulster University School of Medicine, Innovation and Health Projects, the Central Riverfront/Walled City Regeneration Projects, and the Strabane Town Centre Regeneration Project.
The meeting was chaired by Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Sandra Duffy, who said that while many challenges lie ahead, she was encouraged by the ongoing commitment of the SGP to progressing change. “This is the first quarterly meeting of the SGP in 2023 and it’s a fitting time to reflect on the strategic projects that are going to be transformational for this City and District. We have been through a particularly difficult few years and further challenges lie ahead in terms of delivering the objectives that were set out within the Strategic Growth Plan when it was first drafted.
“However much progress has been made despite the additional pressures on budgets and services and I am confident that we will continue to build on that work and keep up that positive momentum. I want to stress however that adequate financial support from central government will be essential in delivering these ambitions for our City and District, to help bridge those gaps which have emerged as a result of changing economic circumstances.”
You can find the reports from today’s Strategic Growth Partnership meeting at growderrystabane.com