£100m for Derry and Strabane city deal

derry waterfront
Image caption Securing city deal status is part of Derry City and Strabane District Council's long term economic strategy

More than £100m of government funding has been announced to boost the economy in the north west.

The Derry and Strabane district area city deal is to receive £50m to support innovation and grow the area's digital sector.

A further £55m has been allocated to an Inclusive Future Fund for the region, the first of its kind in the UK.

It aims to fund job creation and projects designed to tackle deprivation and develop young people's skills.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said the new fund "recognises the unique circumstances facing the region and will help create new opportunities for the whole of the community, especially for young people."

She said the £105m funding package "is a major boost to the economic potential of the region".

Ms Bradley said it "will help strengthen the foundations for greater prosperity and a stronger, more united society".

Image caption The investment could see Ulster University house a new medical school on the city's waterfront

Derry City and Strabane District Council anticipates the funding will be further boosted by the Northern Ireland government and additional financing from project partners and the private sector.

The local authority estimates the total investment will top £300m.

'Transformational'

Derry and Strabane Mayor John Boyle said: "This hugely significant announcement today for the Derry and Strabane District will go some considerable way in addressing the long-standing obstacles to economic development that this city region and its people face.

"It is good news and is the result of an enormous amount of work and sustained effort invested by council and the city and regional partners to develop, deliver and negotiate on the bid."

What is a city deal?

City deal status gives local areas specific powers to help support economic growth and job creation.

It is an agreement between government and a city. It gives 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

The city deal plans include the establishment of a landmark riverfront university medical education and innovation hub.

It is envisaged that would create 200 new research posts and increase Ulster University numbers in the city by 2,000.

Image caption Expanding City of Derry Airport is outlined in the Derry city deal proposal

Proposals also include improvements to the region's digital connectivity, the creation of skills academies and the creation of a Centre for Industrial Digitisation, Robotics and Automation.

Urban regeneration, infrastructure and tourism projects are also detailed in the city deal proposals.

Brian McGrath, president of Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, said: "There's been a massive amount of work done on this. It will be transformational.

"It's not pie in the sky stuff. It will be a real intervention especially around skills and connectivity.

"This is all so timely, especially with Brexit. But decent roads are so fundamental."

It is the second city deal to be proposed for Northern Ireland.

An agreement was signed in March that could see Belfast and six other council areas receive investment of £350m.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said the combined funding package for the north west "will bring enormous benefits for years to come".

More on this story