Agenda and minutes

Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall

Contact: Louise McLornan, Democratic Services Officer  x6077

No. Item




            No apologies were received.





            The minutes of the meetings of 6th and 12th December 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 January.



Declarations of Interest


            No declarations of interest were reported.





Translink - Weavers Cross


            The Chairperson advised the Committee that Mr. C. Conway, Chief Executive of Translink, was in attendance and he was welcomed to the meeting.


            He explained to the Members that ‘Weavers Cross’ was an 8 hectare site linking a modern, high capacity transport hub with a mixed use development site.  He outlined that it would become the main gateway for Belfast, with rail and bus connections to all parts of Northern Ireland, and the main rail and coach link to Dublin with direct connections to major airports.


            He advised the Committee that the Transport Hub was now fully funded.  He outlined that the project had been split into 2 planning applications and that the Transport Hub was currently going through the planning process so he would concentrate on providing an update on the wider development.


            He outlined to the Members that the wider development was going through a consultation process and that a Pre Application Notice (PAN) had been submitted.  The Members were advised that procurement of construction was ongoing.


            The Committee was advised that Translink would be working with the Council on a Construction employment academy to provide construction jobs throughout the build period.


            In relation to consultation on the project, he advised that they had received feedback from Project Hope, amongst other organisations, on ways in which Translink could improve the consultation process and he outlined a number of consultation events which would take place across the City.


            In response to a Member’s question regarding the removal of the Boyne Bridge, Mr. Conway advised the Members that there was no feasible design which allowed them to carry out the required level of development in the Sandy Row area and retain the Boyne Bridge.


            In response to further questions, Mr. Conway explained that it would be difficult to justify the creation of rail links between Belfast city centre and the Belfast International Airport and the George Best Belfast City Airport, in terms of cost and disruption to services, and added that frequent bus services currently covered those routes.


            Mr. Conway confirmed to the Committee that the Arts Advisory Panel would look at ways in which the heritage of the area, including the lights, plaque and steel from the Harland and Wolff structures could be incorporated into the design of the site.


            The Chairperson thanked Mr. Conway for this presentation and he retired from the meeting.



Restricted Items


            The Information contained in the following three reports is 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 Committee meeting during discussion of the items as, due to the nature of the item, there would be a disclosure of exempt information as described in Section 42 (4) and Schedule 6 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014.



Revenue Estimates and District Rate 2018/2019


            (Mr. R. Cregan, Director of Finance and Resources, attended in connection with this item)


            The Committee considered a report, which had been prepared by the Director of Finance and Resources, in relation to the establishment of the District Rate and the compilation of the Estimates of Revenue Expenditure for the year 2018/2019.


            The Director outlined that the paper would not be subject to call-in as it would cause an unreasonable delay which would be prejudicial to the Council and the public’s interest in striking the district rate by the legislative deadline of 15th February, 2018.


            He outlined to the Members that the main financial pressures facing the Council in 2018/2019 were uncontrollable costs but that the impact of those costs had been reduced by the increase in the rate base and efficiency savings.


            He explained the cash limit for the City Growth and Regeneration Committee for 2018/2019, as recommended by the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, at its meeting on 5th January, and outlined the next steps in the rate setting process leading to the setting of the district rate by Council at its meeting in February, 2018.


            After discussion, the Committee:


1.     agreed a cash limit for the City Growth and Regeneration Committee for 2018/19 of £16,036,980 and the individual service cash limits detailed in table 3 of the report; and

2.     noted the next steps in the rate setting process.



Royal Avenue Site Update


            The Director of City Centre Development provided the Committee with an overview of the work which was ongoing in relation to the Council’s joint venture partnership with McAleer & Rushe (Bel Tel LLP) with regards to the former Belfast Telegraph site.  She also provided the Members with information on the proposed programme, engagement and branding for the scheme.


            After brief discussion, the Committee noted:


1.     the progress to date on Bel Tel LLP; and

2.     the proposed programme, engagement and branding for the scheme going forward.



City Centre Living


            The Director of City Centre Development provided the Members with an update on the work which was ongoing in relation to City Centre Living in terms of the City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy (CCRIS), the Belfast Agenda and the Local Development Plan.


            She explained the key learning points which had arisen from the City Centre Living Study visit to London from 12th-13th October, 2017, and the City Centre Living Workshop which had taken place on 23rd October, 2017.  She outlined to the Members that this had prompted further work to take place on Living over the Shops (LOTS), and potential pilot scheme to deliver city centre living principles, understanding the city centre residential market, use of the City Deal and invention opportunities.


            During discussion, a Member requested that those residents who already lived in the city centre be invited to participate in the next Workshop.


            After discussion, the Committee:


1.     noted the contents of the report; and

2.     agreed that a follow-up Workshop would be held with the involvement of residents from the city centre communities.



Growing Businesses and the Economy


Employability and Skills Update pdf icon PDF 125 KB


            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:


·        Update Members on progress on the key Employability & Skills workstreams

·        Advise Members of the impacts of the work to date and the plans in place to achieve targets set out in the Belfast Agenda

·        Note the intention to hold a workshop with Members in February 2018 to ensure Member input into priority activity on Employability and Skills for the coming year.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


·        Note the updates on the Employability and Skills workstreams and the impact of these interventions, including facilitating access to 735 jobs in the year to date

·        Agree to hold a Committee Workshop on 21st February 2018 to ensure a collaborative approach to developing the future work programme for the coming year.


3.0       Main report


            Key Issues


3.1       The purpose of this report is to update Members on progress against target on Council support for Employability and Skills activity, focusing on how this aligns to Belfast Agenda priorities and targets. 


3.2       The report includes details of key projects and investments and sets out how these will be developed in the short to medium-term.  This is in line with the approach agreed by Members at the October 2017 meeting of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee.  Current priority activities include Employment Academies in key employment growth sectors as well as career development and youth engagement activities.


3.3       The following jobs creation and participant targets have been established for the current financial year: 


·        Up to 1,500 residents will be supported to find a job.  To date, more than 1,000 residents have entered employment (735 through ESF and Employment Academies and 313 through our entrepreneurship (including Go for It programme) and business development support);

·        4,000 residents will be engaged through employability interventions (e.g careers insight activities) and early engagement projects (with 2,928 people engaged to date);

·        Over 1,000 students and young people to be engaged through career events and digital skills programmes (715 young people engaged to date)

·        Over 290 work experience opportunities to be provided through the Council and key employers across the City (with 25 employers signed up to provide the 290 work experience opportunities to date).


3.4       Employment Academies Update


            Members will be aware that the Council is delivering a range of Employment Academies across a range of employment growth sectors.  These Academies are based on the learning from a number of pilot programmes undertaken in the previous financial year where 100 participants were supported and 60 found employment. 


3.5       Employment Academies are a very flexible support intervention.  They are designed in conjunction with employers to meet their specific needs.  Typically, they involve a training intervention of up to two weeks, after which the employer will provide a guaranteed interview for an existing job. 


3.6       Officers are currently engaged in an intensive programme of delivery, supporting Employment Academies across a number of sectors including Hotels/Hospitality; Construction; Social Care  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4a


Update on Council and Partner Support for Business Start-up and Growth pdf icon PDF 134 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 update Members on the work of the Council and its partner organisations to increase entrepreneurship levels in the City and support new business start-up and growth.  


1.2       The report outlines how these activities are delivering against Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) identified in the Programme for Government (PfG), Industrial Strategy for Northern Ireland, the Belfast Agenda and the Employability and Skills Framework 2016-2020. Primarily, these indicators relate to Job Creation and Business Productivity.


1.3       Members will be aware that the Belfast Agenda four-year stretch goals to 2021 include the creation of 15,000 new jobs and supporting 4,000 new business start-ups. Supporting new business start-ups and indigenous business growth is a sustainable means to developing a sustainable local economy and promoting inclusive economic growth.  In the year to date, the Council has directly helped 344 individuals consider starting their business and has provided 300 companies with business growth support. In total, 313 jobs have been created. 


1.4       Following the transfer of some economic development powers as part of Local Government Reform (LGR) in April 2015, entrepreneurship activity is now a statutory function of the Council.  As such, there is an additional responsibility on the Council not only to ensure that it invests resources to encourage start-ups but also that it convenes the work of partner organisations active in this field. 


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to;


·        Note the work that is being undertaken by the Council and its partners to address the deficit around business start-up rates and to support indigenous companies to become more competitive and improve their productivity.

·        Note that enterprise, business start and business growth activity has created 313 jobs to date this financial year.  The breakdown of these jobs is ‘Go for It’ Programme 190 jobs, enterprise support for under-represented groups 6 jobs, Innovation Factory 85 jobs and ‘Go Social’ Programme for social entrepreneurs and co-operatives 32 jobs created).

·        Note the performance for ‘Start a Business’ and ‘Grow a Business’, as summarised in the infographics in Appendices 1 and 2.


3.0       Main report


3.1       At the December 2017 meeting of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee, officials from Invest Northern Ireland provided an updated analysis of the performance of the Belfast economy.  This included references to key growth sectors as well as areas in which the City’s performance was lagging behind.  This included start-ups levels and business productivity.    Some of the key messages include:


·        Levels of entrepreneurship: Belfast continues to lag behind the NI average for early-stage entrepreneurial activity with a TEA (total entrepreneurial activity) rate of 4.4% compared to the NI average of 6.3%.  Belfast ranks 9th out of the 11 Councils in terms of Total Entrepreneurial Activity;   

·        Self-Employment rates: the self-employment rate in Belfast is 6% of total employment.  This is half the figure for Northern Ireland;

·        Rebalance the economy: the City is too reliant on the public sector  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4b


Regenerating Places and Improving Infrastructure


Inner North West Masterplan pdf icon PDF 120 KB


            The Director provided the Members with an update on the ongoing work on the Inner North West (INW) masterplan.


            She outlined to the Committee that the Inner North West area of the city centrewas experiencing significant change, mostly as a result of a number of approved and planned development opportunities in the wider area including the new Ulster University campus, potential redevelopment of the Central Library, private and public sector schemes, as well as the proposed redevelopment of the former Belfast Telegraph site.


            She highlighted to the Members that the area was in need of significant investment to ensure that coherent proposals could come forward on the many vacant sites.  The Committee was advised that the area needed to be developed comprehensively to ensure improved linkages and connections with other parts of the city centre and adjacent neighbourhoods.


            The Members were advised that the INW Masterplan sought to provide a framework to help shape those opportunities and ensure a more comprehensive approach to development on both public and private sector owned land. 


The Director outlined that the INW Masterplan sought to facilitate a new city centre mixed neighbourhood which:


·        incorporated a mix of uses, including residential, commercial, retail and leisure, all integrated through a strong and cohesive public realm;

·        took into consideration the heritage of the area and the historic urban grain;

·        reinstated the historically vibrant economy of the area;

·        promoted ‘city centre living’;

·        strengthened the city centre’s urban fabric and streetscapes;

·        supported and strengthened pedestrian connections to the city and adjoining neighbourhoods;

·        considered meanwhile uses to animate specific areas;

·        delivered the ambitions of the Belfast Agenda.


She advised the Members of the engagement which had taken place to date on the Masterplan.  She explained that the area involved multiple land owners, in both the public and private sectors, and pointed out that it had also seen planning appeals in recent times.  As a result of the complexities she pointed out that officers had undertaken targeted pre-consultation engagement in September, 2017, which had informed the emerging masterplan.  The Members were also advised that engagement with statutory partners continued to take place.


The Committee was reminded that a Workshop on the Masterplan had been held on 13th November, 2017, and that feedback from the session had been fed into the draft plan, particularly the development of an additional Character Area between Castle Street and College Street.


The Director explained that, during the formal 12-week consultation period, the Council would seek to engage with a diverse range of stakeholders in this area of the city, including residents, businesses, statutory partners and developers.


            In response to a Member’s question, the Director confirmed to the Committee that there would be proactive engagement with residents in the area.


            The Committee agreed that a 12-week consultation be undertaken for the draft Inner North West masterplan, commencing in February.



Blackstaff Square pdf icon PDF 97 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 to seek agreement from Members to progress the Blackstaff Square public realm project under Phase 5 of the Belfast Streets Ahead (BSA) programme.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       Members are asked to:


-       Agree that the Blackstaff Square Public realm project be taken forward under Phase 5 of the Belfast Streets Ahead programme, led by Department for Communities (DfC);

-       Note DfC’s intention to procure an Integrated Design Team for a BSA Phase 5 project;

-       Note that the Council will work with DfC to ensure that project is designed and developed in such a manner that elements of the scheme can continue as a standalone project outside the wider remit of the Streets Ahead 5 project, should full funding not be available;

-       Note that this approach would mean that Phase 5 would be prioritised over Phase 2 (the area around City Hall) and Phase 4 (the area around Royal Exchange in the North East Quarter);

-       Note DfC’s intention to maintain a priority focus on the delivery of Streets Ahead 3 as the priority public realm project pending confirmation of funding arrangements.


3.0       Main report




3.1       The Council’s Linen Quarter (LQ) Vision and Guidance approved on 1st June 2016 included proposals to enhance the arrival experience between the proposed Transport Hub and the city centre across Great Victoria Street and create a new, improved high quality public realm in Blackstaff Square, to serve as a positive gateway from the Transport Hub to the Central Business District and Linen Quarter.


3.2       In February 2017, Council agreed that as part of the promotion and development of the Linen Quarter that the City Centre Development Team should develop a Phase 1 public realm design scheme and project cost to RIBA Stage 3.The original proposed delivery model was a two-stage approach with the Council appointing a design team to develop the project to RIBA Stage 3 (including planning) and the scheme passing to DfC for the procurement of an Integrated Supply Team to deliver the construction phase. DfC subsequently sought advice from the Central Procurement Directorate on the proposed delivery model and was advised that having the one Integrated Design Team in place from start to end provides the best value for money in line with NI Public Procurement Policy (NIPPP).


3.3       Over the past months, teams in the Council and DfC have been exploring how best to take this forward in terms of procurement and also in light of other development activities in the vicinity, such as the proposed Transport Hub and new Belfast Grand Central Hotel. The boundary of the Blackstaff Square project initially proposed is shown in Appendix 1. However, with Translink developing the Weavers Cross Transport Hub at their Great Victoria Street/Glengall Street site, there is the potential that this could impact on the scope of the Blackstaff Square project. The Grand Central Hotel on Bedford Street  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5b


Belfast Rapid Transit pdf icon PDF 129 KB

Additional documents:


(Ms. A. Doherty, Planning and Transport Officer, attended in connection with this item)


            The Chairperson advised the Committee that Mr. C. de Burca, Director for Transport Projects and Business Services in the Department for Infrastructure, Mr. C. Conway, Chief Executive of Translink, and Mr. S. Duffy, Belfast Taxi Group, were in attendance and had requested to speak to the Committee on the item.  The Committee acceded to the requests and the Chairperson welcomed them to the meeting.


            The Planning and Transport Officer advised the Committee that the Council had been requested to submit a response to the Department for Infrastructure’s proposal to make two Orders, which would revoke and replace existing bus lanes and introduce new lengths of bus lanes in the city centre, operating between 7.00am and 7.00pm, Monday to Saturday inclusive.  She pointed out that, under the proposals, only buses, cycles, motorcycles, permitted taxis and certain specified vehicles would be permitted to use the specified bus lanes during those hours of operation.


            She explained to the Committee that the following Motion had also been referred to the Committee by the Council, at its meeting on 3rd January, under Standing Order 13(f):


“This Council shall submit to the Department for Infrastructure a corporate response to the Consultation on Bus Lanes within Belfast, as follows:


The Belfast Rapid Transport (BRT) lanes should not operate from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. from Monday to Saturday;


Operation hours of 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. from Monday to Friday is sufficient for the operation of the BRT lane without general traffic;


Ordinary drivers and businesses in the area will suffer badly, funerals processions will be affected and taxi drivers will find it increasingly difficult to earn a decent wage;


All taxis should be allowed into all BRT routes and all bus lanes in Belfast on a permanent basis; and


The recent twelve-week trial allowing all taxis to use the lanes in East and West Belfast and in the City centre was a success and made a noticeable improvement to traffic on these routes and should now be introduced across Belfast in all lanes permanently.”


            Mr. de Burca outlined that, under current proposals, the bus lanes would operate Monday – Saturday, 7am - 7pm, with a 2 hour loading window between 10am-12pm. 


            In relation to funeral corteges, which were alluded to within the Motion, he confirmed to the Committee that the Department would not prosecute a cortege moving between the church or house and the Cemetery.  He clarified to the Committee that allowing private hire taxis into bus lanes would be a Ministerial decision and that civil servants could not implement a change in the legislation without Ministerial sign-off.


            He confirmed to the Members that Public Hire taxis (Class B&C taxis) were allowed in the bus lanes at all times. He explained that a change to that policy would require Ministerial approval and that, without an Executive, the Department could not implement any change.


            Mr. Duffy  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5c


Positioning Belfast to Compete


St. Patrick's Day Celebrations in Belfast pdf icon PDF 113 KB

Additional documents:


            The Director reminded the Committee that, at its meeting on 13th April, 2016, it had agreed to provide financial support to a number of local organizations in order to explore how the City’s St. Patrick’s Day and Orangefest celebrations could be developed and enhanced in order to attract additional visitors and spend. 


            He reminded the Members that, at its meeting on 11th October, 2017, the Committee had received a presentation on the emerging findings from Féile an Phobail and it was agreed that the final report would be brought back to a future meeting.


            He advised the Members that the Executive summary was included within the report for Members’ consideration and that the full report would be provided to any Member upon request.


            The Committee considered the undernoted section of the report:


“3.5     The report identifies the alignment with some key strategic documents from a range of local government and government partners.  These include The Belfast Agenda and the Integrated Tourism Strategy.  Its content was informed by a range of engagement and consultation events including 1-2-1 interviews, a community survey and a business survey.


3.6A series of benchmarks were identified and comparator research was undertaken to consider the organisational structure, tourism impact and cultural experience associated with the event in each of the five benchmark cities and towns.  The comparator cities ranged from those with a global profile (New York, Chicago) to more local examples such as Birmingham and Downpatrick.  These benchmarks collectively illustrate a significant economic return from their programming.  Many are multi-day events, thereby maximising visitor spend.


3.7The report identifies a number of strategic priorities for future planning around St Patrick’s Day events in Belfast, arising from the analysis.  These are:


1.       Develop a reputation as a market-leading provider of an innovative and inclusive, community-led St Patrick’s Day Festival.  This involves expanding on the current offer to develop an event and a range of products that are capable of attracting significant numbers of local and international visitors and maximising the economic impact

2.       Delivery of high quality, community-led events feeding into a unique and unrivalled celebration of St Patrick’s Day in Belfast City Centre.  This focuses on increasing support for locally-based celebration events which can feed into and support the main event in the City Centre

3.       Provide a robust and highly effective management, partnership and governance structure to implement the ambitious festival plans.  This suggests that, given the potential scale of the event, a collaborative planning and delivery structure will be required, involving representation from a range of tourism partners, community-based organisations, statutory partners and private sector representatives

4.       Deploy a bespoke, innovative and culturally acceptable integrated marketing and communications strategy to match the event’s high ambitions.  Like all major events, this suggests that the proposed scale of activity needs to be supported by an effective marketing and communications plan in order to maximise its impact and the potential economic return. 


3.8This event concept is shaped by four underlying principles.  These are:

·         Community-led: the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6a


Creation of the Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance pdf icon PDF 93 KB


            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 advise Members of correspondence received from Tourism Northern Ireland (TNI) regarding the creation of the Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance.  TNI have asked that Belfast City Council becomes a member of that Alliance at a cost of £2,000 per year.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


·        Consider the request for Belfast City Council to become a member of the NI Tourism Alliance.

·        Approve the contribution of £2,000 per annum for an initial period of 3 years.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       Members will be aware of the growing importance of the tourism industry to Belfast and Northern Ireland.  It is estimated that around 18,000 people are employed in the tourism and hospitality sector.  The significant growth in hotel development – with an additional 1000 rooms becoming available in 2018 – will only serve to increase the employment potential of the sector.


3.2       At present, hospitality accounts for around 5.2% of GDP.  This is around half of the figure for comparative cities across the UK and this demonstrates the potential for additional development.


3.3       Unlike other industry sectors, tourism and hospitality does not have a strong industry body to represent its interests to government and to provide a focal point for engagement with the sector.  Taking account of this, Tourism NI has been working with a number of key representatives from the sector and agreement has been reached to establish the Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance.


3.4       The purpose of the Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance is to champion the tourism sector and its benefits to the regional economy, make the case for resources to be made available for the development and delivery of tourism growth, including the work of local government, and to advocate for positive policy change in areas such as VAT, Air Passenger Duty and Licencing Legislation.


3.5       A Steering Group established to explore the potential for creating an independent, private sector – led representative body for the tourism industry met in early December 2017.  The group was facilitated by Tourism NI and chaired by Ellvena Graham, Chair of NI Chamber of Commerce and Chair of Belfast Waterfront Board.


3.6       The Steering Group agreed that it would be important to have all 11 Local Authorities engaged as members of the Alliance, given local government’s role in delivering major visitors attractions, visitor servicing through Tourist Information Centres, regeneration and development of their local tourism industries. It was also recognised that given the scale of the contribution made by the local government sector that it should be afforded a seat at the Executive of the Alliance.


3.7       Currently seventeen organisations have agreed to commit to £5,000 per annum in membership fees to ensure the Alliance is suitably resourced to fulfil its objectives including Belfast Harbour, George Best Belfast City Airport, Belfast International Airport, British Airways, Aer Lingus, FlyBe, NI Hotels Federation, National Trust, National Museums NI,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6b