As well as driving growth locally, Derry City and Strabane District Council (DCSDC) has recently been developing its regional focus, adopting a strong collaborative approach to initiating positive change on both sides of the border to the benefit of everyone in the North West.
With that in mind, considerable progress has been made in the establishment of the new Strategic North West Partnership arrangements, a council-led model founded on a principle of partnership between local and central government. Place-making is at its core, with emphasis on driving regional economic growth and investment, physical and environmental development; and social and community cohesion and wellbeing across the North West.
At a strategic level the partnership comprises the North West Strategic Growth Partnership and representatives from the key government departments, North and South, with a brief in economic and regional development. This body plays a key role in supporting central government in delivering on the North West Gateway Initiative and in tracking key central government investments relevant to the growth of the North West region.
The work of the strategic partnership is informed by an all-Council group – The North West Regional Development Group. The Regional Development Group’s focus is on advancing the three pillars of: regional economic growth; regional physical development; and regional community and social wellbeing, through engagement with key statutory and sectorial partners across both council areas.
DCSDC published its Strategic Growth Plan (SGP) – the Community Plan – in November 2017, and is now forging ahead with its delivery as part of a wider strategy for growth in the North West.
However, the real catalyst for lasting change hinges on the successful delivery of a City Deal for the area. Without this, the strong foundations which have already been laid will not be substantial enough to support the ambitions of the region.
A City/Growth Deal is regarded as a potential mechanism for unlocking the critical funding to realise the full potential of the region. The primary focus has to be on those investment priorities within the SGP that will contribute most to sustainable growth and impact on GVA.
Forging international links
As well as changing the dynamics at home, DCSDC has a growing focus abroad, and thanks to the strengthening partnership with Donegal County Council, is now in a position to market the North West as an attractive proposition for foreign direct investors. Much work has been done to foster relations with US economic centres in Boston and Philadelphia, and the Council is now extending its reach by pursuing links with China.
The first of three international trade missions in 2018 will take place in May with a fact-finding visit to Dalian City, and trips to Philadelphia planned in June, and Boston Massachusetts in November.
Closer to home, DCSDC has been making real progress over the past year in the delivery of a range of support programmes for local enterprises, as well as enhancing skills and employability to ensure the region is resourced to meet the needs of industry now and in the future.
Capital development is also high on the agenda and DCSDC is currently progressing an ambitious £150 million programme of capital investment. In March, the Council unveiled the £7.2 million newly regenerated Brandywell Stadium, the latest in the portfolio of development projects.
Over the coming months the Council will continue to progress with the work which is already having such an impact on the city, district and region as a whole; and will continue its campaign North and South for the support needed to finally realise the true potential of the North West.
Derry and Strabane District Council
98 Strand Road