Policy Forum for Northern Ireland

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Implementing the Derry-Londonderry and Strabane City Region City Deal

TO BE PUBLISHED September 2021

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference will bring together policymakers and stakeholders to discuss the next steps, and will assess the challenges for moving the deal forward.

The discussion follows the signing of the Heads of Terms for the Deal, which will see £210m contributed by the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive equally, with a further £40m provided by Derry City and Strabane District Council.

We are pleased to be able to include a keynote contribution from Robin Walker MP, Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office.

The agenda will bring out latest thinking on:

  • the City Region City Deal - looking at its vision, and assessing the Deal’s projects, as well as progress and next steps in its implementation
  • delivering the Deal’s vision:
    • attracting inward investment
    • meeting the needs of stakeholders, including business
    • improving the skills base and encouraging young people to stay in the area
  • priorities for the whole region - ensuring the Deal benefits the wider North West
  • building on best practice - lessons that can be learnt from other city and local growth deals

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from the Department for Communities, the Department for the Economy; DAERA; the Northern Ireland Audit Office; and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

The agenda

  • The vision for the Derry-Londonderry and Strabane City Region City Deal
  • Progress on implementing the City Region Deal and key priorities moving forward
  • Assessing the City Deal projects and delivering transformational change in the region - innovation, the digital economy and regeneration
  • Delivering the Deal and priorities for governance and accountability
  • Ensuring the Deal benefits the wider North West region
  • Building on the Deal’s vision and making it work in practice - attracting inward investment, meeting the needs of business, delivering a skilled and talented regional workforce, and learning from the progress of other Deals

Key areas for discussion:
Delivering the ten City Deal projects:

  • success factors - looking at:
    • what governance and measures need to be put in place to ensure success
    • how to enable the criteria to be met for obtaining the business case approval that is needed for each project to secure funding, as well as any further funding and support that may be necessary
  • implementation - identifying and overcoming barriers to delivering the projects, which include:
    • the Centres of Innovation and Research at Ulster University, in artificial intelligence and data analytics (CARL), and robotics and automation (CIDRA)
    • the School of Medicine at the Magee campus, and the creation of a Health Research Institute (HRI) in the city
    • town centre regeneration in both Derry Central and Strabane, and projects to boost the tourism and culture sector across the region
  • impact - evaluating how the projects can:
    • complement each other to deliver the intended transformational change to the region
    • meet both community and business needs, and achieve the Deal’s vision

Realising the ambitions of the City Deal:

  • technology and innovation - next steps for meeting the Deal’s aims for making the region a world leader in emerging technologies, and creating a talent pipeline for inward and local investors
  • economic and social impact - what will be needed to achieve the aims of:
    • promoting growth in the region and those surrounding it
    • supporting recovery from COVID-19
    • tackling the causes and consequences of long-term social and physical deprivation
  • employment - how to ensure the integrated plan for employability and skills, which will underpin the Deal, is successful in:
    • taking advantage of the employment opportunities from the Deal
    • creating new jobs in the region, and promoting inclusive growth
    • supporting those removed from the labour market so that they have increased opportunities
  • lessons from other growth deals:
    • what can be learned for the long-term priorities of the City Deal from growth deals at a more advanced stage of delivery
    • looking at best practice in the administration, governance, and delivery of deals in Belfast and elsewhere in the UK
  • progress and next steps - assessing implementation of the deal so far, and priorities for the future

Demographic, infrastructure and economic priorities:

  • an age-balanced population:
    • what will be needed to encourage young people to remain in the region, and reduce outward migration
    • how best to capitalise on assets to make the area a more accessible and attractive place to live, study and work in
  • infrastructure - the outlook for the development of major infrastructure projects beyond the City Deal, including:
    • planned improvements to the transport and communications networks, such as upgrades to the A5 and A6
    • the future of Derry City Airport
  • the wider North-West Region:
    • how the Deal can contribute to prosperity more widely, and dovetail with the regeneration projects in Letterkenny and Sligo recently announced by the Irish Government

The background:

  • the signing of the Heads of Terms for the City Deal - which includes:
    • a contribution of £210m from the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive, with a further £40m from Derry City and Strabane District Council
    • the announcement of ten major projects proposed within the Deal focusing on health, life sciences, regeneration and renewal, and digital industry
    • commitments from the NI Executive to support Derry City and Strabane District Council in developing an integrated plan for employability and skills to underpin the Deal, including:
      • the setting up of skills and employability pathways, to support those removed from the labour market by equipping them with skills for the modern economy
      • a focus on creating a skills pipeline to take advantage of the employment opportunities that will arise from the Deal
  • the All Island Strategic Rail Review - launched by the Infrastructure Minister in Northern Ireland and the Minister for Transport in the Republic of Ireland, the review will look at how to:
    • improve connectivity between major cities, and enhance regional accessibility, including to the North West
    • support balanced economic development across the island of Ireland
  • the A5 Western Transport Corridor Scheme and its future:
    • Publication of the PAC Interim Report and the Interim Departmental Statement - the recent release of an inquiry into the A5 Western Transport Corridor Scheme by the Planning Appeals Commission in March, which recommended that there be new assessments on flood risk, the environmental impact, and alternatives
    • Mallon committed to progress A5 - the Infrastructure Minister reiterated her commitment to the scheme, but accepted the recommendations from the PAC potentially leading to further delays to the project ahead of a reconvened public inquiry in front of the Planning Appeals Commission in 2022
  • Council to seek funding support for Airport:
    • Derry and Strabane District Council recently asking the UK Government:
      • to contribute £15m to the running of the airport over six years
      • for a continued commitment to funding the route to London beyond 2023
    • with the Irish Government also being asked to create a public service obligation air route between the airport and Dublin
  • €61.4m for Regeneration Projects in the wider region - the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage in the Irish Government announcing projects in Letterkenny and Sligo

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from the Department for Communities, NI; the Department for the Economy, NI; DAERA, NI; the Northern Ireland Audit Office; and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from the local authorities involved in the City Region Deal, the North West of the Republic of Ireland and elsewhere in Northern Ireland, representatives from industries involved in the development of digital and transport infrastructure, health and life sciences representatives, further and higher education and skills development, the tourism and cultural sectors and the business sector - including large employers and high value manufacturing, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles