Agenda and minutes

Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall

Contact: Eilish McGoldrick, Democratic Services Officer 

No. Item




Apologies were reported on behalf of Councillors Beattie and Heading.





            The minutes of the meeting of the 8th March were taken as read and signed as correct.  It was reported that those minutes had been adopted by the Council at its meeting on 3rd April, subject to the request of Councillor Ferguson and with the permission of the Council, the Chairperson (Councillor Murphy) had agreed that the minute under the heading “Belfast Zoo - Fees and Charges” be taken back to the Committee for further consideration.



Declarations of Interest


            In relation to item 4.d) Cultural Work Programme 23-24, Councillor McCabe declared an interest in that she was employed by Feile an Phobail, and left the meeting whilst the item was under discussion.



Correspondence received from Department of Health - GP Indemnity pdf icon PDF 155 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee was reminded that, at its Special meeting in February, it had received a presentation from the Strategic Planning and Performance Group (SPPG) of the Department of Health (DoH) in relation to GP Services in Belfast. The Committee had agreed that it would write to the Permanent Secretary to request an update on the work being undertaken to resolve GP indemnity in Northern Ireland, together with the following questions which had been added by the Council at its meeting on 1st March:


·        What mitigation measures were being taken to try and address the number of GPs leaving the Health Services? and

·        What measures were being taken to try and increase the number of medical students year on year?


            Accordingly, Democratic Services wrote to the Permanent Secretary to request an update on the matter and a response had been received (copy available here) for consideration.


            The response provided details of the Department of Health’s review of the arrangements for clinical negligence indemnity cover for GPs in Northern Ireland, together with an update on the DoH “Attract, Recruit Retain scheme”. which had been introduced by the SPPG to assist in increasing the numbers of GP Partners and salaried GPs remaining in Northern Ireland and joining practices across the region.





Restricted Items


            The information contained in the report associated with the following three items were restricted in accordance with Part 1 of Schedule 6 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014.


      Resolved – That the Committee agrees to exclude the members of the press and public from the meeting during discussion of the following three items as, due to the nature of the items, there would be a disclosure of exempt information as described in Section 42(4) and Section 6 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014.



Future City Centre Programme - Vacant to Vibrant


            The Committee was provided with an update on the Vacant to Vibrant Grant Programme and further recommendations from the Vacant to Vibrant assessment panel for consideration.


            The Committee:


·        Noted the update in relation to the city centre Vacant to Vibrant pilot capital grant scheme; and

·        Approved the recommendations of the Assessment Panel as outlined within Section 3.8 of the report.



City Centre Public Realm Catalyst Projects


            The Committee was provided with an update on the status of the secured financial Developer Contributions aligned to public realm and pedestrian crossings, and recommendations to commit developer contributions associated with a range of planning applications.



            The Committee:


·        Noted the update on the committed financial developer contributions secured to date and the status of the delivery of these;

·        Noted that, subject to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee approval, it was intended to commit secured developer contributions amounting to a cumulative total of £1,298,000 to progress the Little Patrick Street and Little York Street Public Realm Improvement Works, and Lancaster Street Entrance Gateway upgrade;

·        Noted that, subject to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee approval, it was intended to commit secured developer contributions amounting to a cumulative total of £612,800 to progress the Blackstaff Square Public Realm Improvement Works in conjunction with the Department for Communities; and

·        Noted that a report on a review of the Developer Contribution Framework would be submitted to a future meeting of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee.



Matters referred back from Council


Belfast Zoo - Fees and Charges (Restricted)

To consider further the minute of the meeting of 8th March which was

referred back to the Committee by the Council on 3rd April (minute and report



            The Committee agreed to defer consideration of the item to allow a report to be submitted to the Committee in June to provide further financial information.



Positioning the City to Compete


Tourism Work and Events Work plan 23-24 pdf icon PDF 385 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to provide Members with an update for approval on the Year 2 Action Plan (2023 /2024) for Tourism Plan for Belfast - Make Yourself at Home and to provide an update on the Council annual events programme and bids for large-scale events.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       Members are asked to: 


·        Note the contents of this report and provide approval for Officers to progress with the Year 2 Action Plan, as detailed including the priorities as set out at Appendix 1 including associated budgets.

·        Note the outline plan for Lord Mayors Days

·        Approve interim funding of £25,000 each to Fáilte Feirste Thiar and EastSide Tourism from existing organisational budgets.

·        Approve the hosting of a EUROVISION viewing event in 2RA to be funded from existing budgets


3.0       Main report


            The purpose of the Make Yourself at Home Tourism Plan is to:


·        Deliver on the tourism priorities set out in the Belfast Agenda recognising the importance of tourism to Growing the Economy and City Development.

·        Align to the ten-year cultural strategy, A City Imagining, in order to ensure that tourism development supports cultural development and is based upon an authentic and sustainable Belfast offer.

·        Support economic and social recovery in the context of COVID-19 including stabilisation, recovery and growth with the opportunity to build back better.

·        Provide strategic context to the Belfast Region City Deal that sets out wider city

·        priorities to ensure Belfast’s appeal internationally and ability to attract out of state visitors.


3.2       Tourism Growth


            Despite significant growth and the success of flagship projects such as Titanic Belfast there is still a gap in scale and maturity of the local industry when compared with other regions. Notably, Northern Ireland lags behind UK regions and Republic of Ireland with respect to tourism as a driver for job growth. However, the positive trajectory in place before Covid-19 had identified tourism growth as both a feasible and a necessary part of inclusive economic growth. The challenge for any tourism development plan is to create a sustainable model that continues to support the growth that is essential for city success and the creation of jobs.


3.3       Belfast’s tourism and hospitality sectors directly support 19,300 jobs, one third of the sector in Northern Ireland. Key tourism sectors such as Accommodation and Food Services, Arts, Entertainment and Recreation and finally Transportation.


3.4       The hospitality sector is an employment - intensive one, supporting a disproportionate number of jobs compared with the average sectoral GVA: jobs ratio. Between 2013 and 2019 employment in Accommodation and Food Services in Belfast increased by 18.2 percent, compared with 8.5 percent growth in the city’s total employment.


3.5       It was in this context that Tourism NI set the ambitious target of doubling the value of the tourism industry to £2 billion by 2030. A key element of this opportunity further reinforced by ambitions of the Belfast Region City Deal was getting  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Update on Music Strategy pdf icon PDF 621 KB


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report


1.1       At a meeting of City Growth and Regeneration Committee in December 2022, members agreed the music strategy, ‘Music Matters: A Roadmap for Belfast’ including its corresponding priorities.  The purpose of this report is to provide Members with an update on progress to date and seek approval to the allocation of funding to a number of important strands of the music strategy.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


-       Note the contents of this report and the progress made against areas of the music strategy, ‘Music Matters: A Roadmap for Belfast’

-       Approve the allocation of £20,000 towards the Pipeline Investment Fund for music venues

-       Approve the allocation of £50,000 for the creation of a digital music support service and marketing channels

-       Approve the allocation of £30,000 towards the development of the Music Industry Mentoring Programme for 2023/24.


3.0       Main report


3.1       Members will be aware that at a meeting of City Growth and Regeneration Committee in December 2022, members agreed the final ‘Music Matters: A Roadmap for Belfast’.  These Mirroring the A City Imagining cultural strategy the music strategy has 4 strategic themes, each having 4 strategic priorities. There are a number of actions and recommendations given for each priority catering to many areas of need across the music sector.


-       Theme 1: Place artists at the heart - Recognising the value of creators

-       Theme 2: Nurture the sector - Strengthening the structures to support those who guide and invest in creators

-       Theme 3: Ignite the live experience - Liberating the live music sector as a major catalyst for cultural and economic growth

-       Theme 4: Unlock the unifying power of UNESCO - Sharing the gift of music with the people of Belfast


3.2       Update on Music Board


            The Music Strategy sets out governance recommendations for Belfast Music, including the formation of a Belfast Region Music Board, comprising between 15 and 20 members, to bring to life the UNESCO City of Music designation. 


            The board will help to embed music in all communities across the city to make music a sustainable career option for creators and people who support them. Following agreement of the full Music Strategy in December 2022, an open call was launched for applications to join the Belfast Region Music Board with applications closing in February 2023. 


            A total of 60 applications were received from across a range of disciplines.  After an extensive shortlisting and scoring process, 18 board members have been selected to participate on the board.  After preliminary shortlisting by the Culture Team, with final selection was decided on with a wider panel including external moderation from key partners in the Music Strategy, namely the British Council NI and Thrive NI. 


            Following the appointment of a Chair and Vice Chair at the inaugural meeting in early April, the board will begin work to review and agree the remaining implementation plan for 23/24.  This  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Update on Dublin - Belfast Economic Corridor pdf icon PDF 260 KB


            The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting on 11th August, 2022, it had received an update on the progress to support the development of the Dublin-Belfast Economic Corridor (DBEC), including work on the strategy and action plan. Since that meeting, the strategy had now been completed and agreed by all of the DBEC partners. It articulated a vision to sustainable economic growth across the region, identifying areas of focus for the partnership to address future opportunities and seeking to address any gaps in existing provision.


The Director of Economic Development advised that the vision of the strategy was to become a leading economic corridor in Europe, achieving sustainable growth through collaborative Research and Development, a highly skilled workforce and enabling infrastructure. This included an ambition to be world renowned as a major international centre in growth sectors such as Professional Services, Advanced Manufacturing, ICT and Life and Health Sciences.


He highlighted that the strategy articulated a number of strategic objectives for the partnership, which included;


·        Increased skills and training to meet the labour requirements of the region, building on and expanding the existing workforce;

·        Advocated for cross-border infrastructure to strengthen connectivity and access to markets and labour;

·        Enhanced cross-border collaboration in Research and Development and Innovation, targeting investment in high growth sectors and the green economy;

·        Promoted sustainable and climate-conscious growth along the corridor, aligned with councils’ development plans and wider policy objectives;

·        Aligned with and supported economic development partners to increase trade and investment along the corridor; and

·        Marketed the region and elevated the DBEC brand so that the region becomes globally renowned as an attractive place to live and do business.


He stated that the action plan outlined key pillars to support effective delivery, including ways of working, governance and resourcing, and communication and marketing. Priority actions identified across the short and medium term included:


·        Undertaking further stakeholder engagement and developing a coherent marketing and communications strategy in line with the strategic objectives;

·        Progressing the Shared Island feasibility study around sectoral Innovation Hubs along the corridor, with the aim of preparing an application for external funding by Quarter 4 2023. In parallel with circular economy activities at Belfast City Council and Dublin City Council, gathering insights on circular economy initiatives along the corridor;

·        Identification and preparatory scoping for relevant external funding opportunities, including Peace Plus and Shared Island;

·        Undertaking research on existing skills strategies and enterprise plans and identifying key barriers to skills development with the aim of developing a clear skills policy and strategy; and

·        Mapping of key assets along the corridor with development potential and highlighting infrastructure gaps.


He advised that, as part of the governance structure for the partnership, the DBEC political advisory group continued to meet. There were 24 councillors who made up a Political Advisory Group (3 nominees from each council area), with the Council nominees being Alderman Dorrian and Councillors Beattie and Hanvey.


Shared Island Fund


The Director of Economic Development reported that, in order to bring forward collaborative activities aligned  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Cultural Work Programme 23-24 pdf icon PDF 310 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to update Members on the current status of the ten-year cultural strategy, A City Imagining and seek approval for key actions in 2023/24 aligned to the implementation of year 4 of the strategy.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


-       Note the contents of this report and progress against the delivery of the cultural strategy priorities.

-       Agree the actions for 2023/24 as set out in the report and in appendix 1 including the budget implications at 3.19 to be met from existing departmental budgets. 


3.0       Main report


3.1       Members will be aware that at a meeting of City Growth and Regeneration Committee in August 2019 the final ten-year cultural strategy for Belfast A City Imagining was agreed. This included draft implementation plans for a three-year period to be reviewed and finalised on an annual basis.


3.2       Despite the challenges of Covid-19, significant progress has been made in delivery against strategic targets in the first three years of the strategy.  In 2022/23 this work included:


-       £3.08m funding through 117 awards via the following schemes:


o   Cultural multi-annual funding including support for Arts/ Heritage organisations and Festivals/Events – 51 organisations supported

o   Four Pathfinder awards for organisations not in receipt of core public sector support

o   21 Community Festivals Fund in partnership with DfC

o   22 organisations supported through Arts and Heritage small grants

o   Five Access and Inclusion grants in partnership with DfC

o   8 organisations supported through Artist Studios and Maker Spaces Organisational Grants

o   19 individual artists supported through the Micro-Grant Programme for Creative Practitioners

o   Creative Bursaries for 10 individuals

o   6 partnerships with key sectoral organisations

o   A partnership with Theatre and Dance NI, including funding for 7 recipients, across various disciplines of the theatre and dance sector, as part of the first ever INVEST programme

o   Partnership with Craft NI to develop Craft NI Gallery including a programme of 8 craft exhibitions and 19 Belfast events for Craft Month

o   A partnership with Thrive NI to continue the Audience Panel, representing 200 members, and provide tailored advice to embedding people-led approaches within cultural organisations

o   A partnership with Ulster Architectural Heritage Society to deliver Open Heritage Belfast and other events, advocacy, advice & support.

o   Investment and delivery against the Creative Communities programme as part of Peace IV.

o   Delivery against the Extended Cultural Programme including creative commissions to four organisations

o   Strategic Delivery Body for Festival 2022 including delivery of Our Place in Space and support for four additional projects

o   Development, consultation and publication of the music strategy

o   Delivery of the Belfast Canvass Project and city animation projects across 30 sites across the city

o   Continue with support to increase participation and representation at cultural events by disabled people through initiatives such as the Gig Buddies programme and a new partnership with the University of Atypical


            Year  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


Strategic and Operational Issues


Committee Plan 2023-24 and End of Year Report 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 449 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee was provided with an end of year progress update (Appendix 1) on the key actions contained in the 2022-23 which Committee Plan, as agreed by the Committee in June 2021, together with the draft Committee Plan for 2023-24 (Appendix 2).


            The Director of City Regeneration and Development advised that the 2022-23 Committee Plan End of Year Report (EOYR) and the draft Plan for 2023-24 were both developed in the context of the Council’s Corporate Plan and the Belfast Agenda, in particular taking into account the emerging work underway with the Belfast Agenda Refresh. Consequently, the new Committee Plan contained the commitments within the Corporate Delivery Plan, which fell under the remit of this Committee, plus additional deliverables that had been agreed by the Committee throughout the 22/23 period and were relevant to the Standing Orders. She reported that the Plan outlined the main priorities and programmes of work that the Committee was overseeing to maximise the Council’s contribution to the Belfast Agenda.


Committee Plan 2022-23 End of Year Report


            The Director of City Regeneration and Development pointed out that, while the Committee had received regular updates on progress for specific programmes and initiatives, Appendix 1 set out an overview of progress against the main commitments in the Committee Plan 2022-2023. She explained that the End of Year Report focussed on the second half of the financial year as members had already received a six-monthly update in December 2022’s committee.


            She informed the Committee that highlights from the EOYR included:


·        The Council had improved its Global Destination Sustainability Index rating to 8thout of 65 other cities across the world. 80% of Belfast Hotel Rooms were now Green Tourism Certified;

·        Belfast was named the world’s best conference destination for a 2nd consecutive year;

·        £17m had been secured for an 11-council Entrepreneurship Support Service;

·        The Council had engaged with 755 individuals, supporting them to progress to start a business;

·        60 Social Enterprises and Co-operatives had received one-to-one mentoring, advice and guidance; four were new co-operatives; and 25 events/ workshops were delivered with over 300 attendees;

·        The £50,000 Social Economy Incentive Fund was launched in September 2022 to support social economy businesses business growth plans;

·        The Council had won ‘Council of the Year’ at the Social Enterprise Northern Ireland Awards in October 2022;

·        The Belfast-Dublin strategy and action plan had been finalised. This helped a successful joint application with Dublin City Council to the Shared Island Fund for a €250,000 award to conduct a feasibility study on circular economy facilities in both cities;

·        By the end of Quarter 3 the zoo had welcomed 184k visitors. This was 14k higher than the five-year average;

·        The assembly of the two remaining properties, for Belfast Stories, had been completed. The Council was in ownership of all properties at the site and the project was currently out to procurement for the Integrated Design Team;

·        Since September, the GCSE support programme had engaged 281  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13a