Dundee City Council leader John Alexander has said although the coronavirus outbreak has put certain regeneration of the city “on the back burner” the work will be completed.
Speaking to the Tele’s Steven Rae via an online interview, he said that the Covid-19 outbreak was “a blip” but was confident that despite delays, the work on the Waterfront and other sites will continue.
When asked about the Waterfront, the Strathmartine councillor said: “If you think about it in this context; the Waterfront is one piece of a thousand-piece, 3D jigsaw.
“It isn’t the be-all and end-all, it isn’t going to define our city, it’s part of a 30-year regeneration plan and we are only half-way through that.
“Coivd-19 has obviously put that on the back burner, in terms of the wider development, in terms of any construction, but it’s essential that we continue to work on all of the regeneration and get the economy where it needs to be.
“I’m quite open about the fact that before we had Covid-19 we were starting from a lower position in terms of employment, and higher unemployment, and a whole series of challenges around poverty, drugs and alcohol that we really needed to continue to tackle.
“None of that has gone away because of Covid-19, we need to actually double-down and make more effort, in terms of trying to support the local economy.”
He continued: “So, the Waterfront is not the focus – I know it’s something that gets a lot of attention because it’s right in the city centre, it’s a very visible thing that we’re doing – but the regernation of the city goes on in every single community.
“It’s the hundred-and-odd houses that are being built in the Hilltown, it’s the new schools that have been built, it’s the new Menzieshill Community Centre – it’s all of that. It’s not just about the Waterfront.
“I suppose it’s about dialling it back as well to think about where we are in that process, so once we get back to construction, once we get back to development carrying on as it was, then there will be an interest in supporting that wider regeneration within the Waterfront.
“But that’s the same of the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc, it’s the same as the work we’ve been doing down at the Port of Dundee. And, more-so, the focus for me right now is on the Tay Cities Deal.”
The Tay Cities Deal brings together public, private and voluntary organisations in the council areas of Angus, Dundee, Fife and Perth & Kinross, with funding of hundreds of millions of pounds due to be released by the UK and Scottish governments.
Councillor Alexander continued: “Because the potential to put that significant amount of money, £350 million, to use in the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak, hopefully we are on the other side of it, that has the potential to really generate the jobs that we’re going to require going forward.
“So we were starting from a position where we needed to do a lot more, Covid-19 has just meant that we are going to have to redouble those efforts and make even more of the opportunities that we might have, including things like the Tay Cities Deal.
“So, the Waterfront is only one part of it, I don’t think we should take away from the other initiatives, the other programmes, the other investments that are under way across the city.
“It’s a 30-year plan, so yes this is a blip, it might now be a 31-year plan, but the reality is; we need to continue to deliver, because we need the jobs and we need the investment and need people in the city to be able to prosper and thrive and have the opportunities that everyone else wants.
“If you look at a particular site, if you look at Waterfront Place for example, (work) had just started on that, we can’t construct anything on-site at the moment so that might delay that project by six months.
“It doesn’t mean that the overall programme of regeneration will change, it might still well be a 30-year programme, all I’m saying is that things obviously will pop up during the course of that, like Covid-19, that will have perhaps a delay on some aspects of the overall regeneration programme.
“But, as far as I’m concerned, we’re carrying on as was, it’s a 30-year programme.
“In 15 years’ time, (coronavirus) will be a memory that we’ll all have – a negative memory in many ways – but hopefully we will be on the other side of that and deliver the Waterfront project more widely.”
John Alexander already addressed the “horrendous” death toll of coronavirus-related deaths in Dundee care homes, which can be viewed below.
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