Belfast-Dublin economic corridor development plan being worked on, committee hears

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Adam Morton

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Local Democracy Reporter

A development plan for the Belfast Dublin economic corridor is currently being worked on, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s economic development and regeneration committee has been told.

At a meeting on Tuesday, January 11, members of the committee were informed the first meeting of the of the collaborative project between the eight local authorities involved in the project and Dublin City University and Ulster University took place on November 23 last year.

They were also advised a development plan, designed to address key issues to support the partnership’s development such as the governance, legal and operating structures is currently under formulation by KPMG. The plan also seeks identify funding opportunities and resource requirements.

Reflecting on the report, Alderman Ian Burns asked if the project will be headquartered within the borough and wondered if the council would be able to draw down funding from it for investment in Banbridge’s business centre.

Council’s strategic director of community and growth, Olga Murtagh told the chamber the answer to these questions will become clearer once the development plan is complete.

“The work on the development plan will help identify what are the resources that we need for the partnership in the future and where will it be based and located,” she said.

“Currently, it is the eight local authorities working together but the governance structure will have to be developed as a result of that as well.

“Like all opportunities for collaboration and cooperation, we are really keen to draw down whatever sources of funding will be out there to help businesses avail of funding opportunities as well.

“The team have been working with Banbridge Enterprise Agency to try and help them in that regard and if there are other sources of funding we can help bring into the region we will.”

Councillor Kyle Savage said he was confident, officers would do their best to ensure the project’s headquarters are located in the borough but called on officers to remain focused on projects and opportunities in the here and now and raised the possibility of a location for a business hub in Dromore.

“One big opportunity I see in Dromore, having been talking to local businesses and the headmaster in the area is that of the old primary school in Dromore,” he said.

“I think we should engage with the Education Authority to see what their plans are for it as to me it is the perfect opportunity for a business hub in Dromore and that is what we need in the area.”

Ms Murtagh said “quite a lot of schemes” have been brought forward in Dromore recently but confirmed her officers would engage with the EA to ascertain its plans for the building.

“We will follow up with the EA in relation to that project,” she confirmed.

“We have brought forward quite a lot of schemes recently building on from the public realm scheme and the revitalisation scheme in Dromore but this could be an opportunity for other sources of funding so we will follow that up.”

Alderman Sydney Anderson asked if how much the council was being asked to contribute to the project and was told this is currently being decided.

“All eight local authorities are asked to contribute and I can bring back information in terms of what that amount of money will be,” said Ms Murtagh.

“We are in the middle of the estimates process at the moment, we are getting details through as to what councils are being asked to contribute so we can bring that back and I can circulate that to members.”

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