Agenda and minutes

Contact: Eilish McGoldrick, Democratic Services Officer 

No. Item




            No apologies were reported.





            The minutes of the meeting of 3rd 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 1st April, subject to the amendment under the heading “Update on Tourism” to provide that the item be taken back to the Committee for further consideration.



Declarations of Interest


            No Declarations of Interest were reported.


Matters Referred Back from Council


Update on Tourism pdf icon PDF 287 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee reconsidered the following report, together with associated appendices:


“1.0     Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       To further consider the report and appendices presented on the Update on Tourism that was considered by the Committee at its meeting held on 3rd March. 


2.0       Recommendation


2.1       The Committee is asked to consider the report and recommendations.


3.0       Main Report


            Key Issues


3.1       The Committee will recall that, at the Council meeting on 1st April, it was agreed that the minute of the meeting of 3rd March, under the heading ‘Tourism Update’, be taken back to the Committee for further consideration.


3.2       Accordingly, the report from last month and associated appendices, along with an extract of the minutes from the March Committee (below) has been re-circulated for further consideration. 


            Minutes of 3rd March City Growth and Regeneration Committee Update on Tourism


            The Committee considered the following report, together with associated appendices:


‘1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1            The purpose of this report is to provide Members with an update on the development of a new tourism plan and set out key actions for quarter 1 of the 2021/22 financial year.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


-       Note the contents of the report and progress made to date on the development of the new tourism plan with agreement to receive a full draft in June 2021.

-       Agree to progress the key actions as set out in appendix 1 and supported by 2021/22 departmental budget for tourism development.


3.0       Main report


3.1       Members will be aware that at a meeting of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee in August 2020, it was agreed that a new ten-year plan for tourism was to be developed. The purpose of this plan is to:


-       Deliver on the tourism priorities set out 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 on 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 City Region Deal.


3.2       A further update was provided to Committee in December 2020 setting out findings of the initial research and development phase and the emerging four draft strategic themes:


-       Grow Belfast

-       Experience Belfast

-       Position Belfast

-       Sustainable Belfast


3.3       An initial timeframe had aimed to present a full draft plan to Committee in March 2021. However due to ongoing challenges facing the tourism and hospitality sectors it is proposed that this is now extended to June in order to facilitate sectoral engagement and to better understand the recovery trajectory. This report therefore provides an update on further progress made during the development phase of the plan and sets out key foundation actions  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2a


Restricted Items


            The information contained in the report associated with the following item was 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 item 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.



Culture Update - 2021/22 Priorities


            The Committee was provided with an update on the current status of the ten-year cultural strategy, A City Imagining, which included proposed key actions in 2021/22 aligned to the implementation of year 2 of the strategy.


            The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting in August 2019, the final ten-year cultural strategy for Belfast A City Imagining had been agreed. This included draft implementation plans for a three-year period to be reviewed and finalised on an annual basis.


            The Director of Economic Development and Senior Manager - Culture and Tourism explained the current status of the Cultural Strategy, research that had been undertaken and the delivery of funding and awards.


            The Senior Manager - Culture and Tourism advised that, despite the challenges of Covid-19, significant progress had been made in delivery against strategic targets in 2020/21. She confirmed that a detailed annual report would be submitted to the Committee in due course following the completion of end of year monitoring and evaluation. She then provided a summary of work which had been undertaken to date under the following themes:


·        Investing in cultural sector;

·        Events;

·        Sectoral Developments;

·        Cultural Participation and Engagement; and

·        Strategic Initiatives.


            She provided also a summary of the key commitments and priorities of the Cultural Strategy for 2021/2022 and highlighted the process of the Pathfinder Scheme which was outlined in the report. 


            She clarified that the activities outlined in this report would be resourced from the 2021/22 budget for the Culture and Tourism section of the Economic Development division of the Place and Economy Departmental budget, in line with existing approvals, and a breakdown of specific areas of spend were included in Appendix 1.


            During discussion, the Director of Economic Development and Senior Manager - Culture and Tourism answered a range of questions in relation to the need for building capacity in the LGBTQ community, the options to progress the Gig Buddies scheme, social clauses and accessibility measures, and music trails.


            The Senior Manager - Culture and Tourism advised that the draft application for the UNESCO City of Music status would be presented to the Committee in June 2021, and officers would investigate potential opportunities for social clauses and accessibility initiatives.


            In response to a Members query regarding further changing places facilities in cultural venues to ensure accessible tourism, the Senior Manager - Culture and Tourism suggested that this could be examined as part of the work being undertaken with partners, the Department for Communities and its Access and Inclusion Fund.


            After discussion, the Committee:


                                     I.          Noted the contents of the report and progress against the delivery of the cultural strategy priorities;

                                    II.          Agreed the actions for 2021/22 as set out in the report and in appendix 1, including the budget implications at 3.42 to be met from existing departmental budgets;

                                  III.          Agreed the recommendations for Pathfinder awards as set out at 3.14, with further detail included in appendix 3;

                                  IV.          Noted that the draft application for the for UNESCO City of Music status would be presented to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3a


Request to Present


Future Provision of Business Start-up Support in Northern Ireland pdf icon PDF 342 KB


            The Committee was reminded that the Council was committed to refreshing the range of business start-up support that was currently in place in order to help achieve the substantial shift that would be required in order to meet the targets set out in the Enterprise Framework. The actions of the framework focused on increasing the number of business start-ups in the city and making existing businesses more productive and competitive.


            It was reported that, working with the 10 other councils, Invest NI and Department for the Economy, it had been agreed that the Council would take the lead in undertaking research to inform the future measure and model required to deliver business start-up support across the region. As the work was now complete, it was proposed that the findings be presented to the Members at the May meeting of the Committee by the Enterprise Research Centre, the consultancy team which had been working with officers on the development of the research.


The Committee agreed to receive a presentation from the Enterprise Research Centre on their findings from the research on the Future Provision of Business Start-up Support in Northern Ireland at its monthly meeting in May.


The Committee also noted that the Enterprise Research Centre would be asked to provide Business Start-Up figures by location/quarters for the last 4 years, if possible.



Regenerating Places & Improving Infrastructure


York Street Interchange pdf icon PDF 281 KB

Additional documents:


            Following a request at its last meeting, the Committee was provided with an overview on decisions taken by the Committee and the Council since the inception of discussions on the York Street Interchange (YSI) that had informed the Council’s position on the proposed scheme.


            The Strategic Director provided a summary of the background and context of the Council’s position on the York Street Interchange scheme, together with a timeline of events, key dates and reports that had been considered by the Council since 2005 to date.


            He highlighted that in March 2021 the Infrastructure Minister had announced the outcome of the review of the YSI scheme and approved the six recommendations by the independent review panel and additional actions.


            He pointed out that consultants had been retained by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) to carry out further work particularly around place making and optimisation of scheme delivery for communities, connectivity and green recovery, the wider living places agenda, and future development of Belfast. He stated that a further update report from the consultants was anticipated in the autumn of 2021 and further details on this review process would be brought to the Committee in due course.


            During discussion, Members raised concerns in relation to the lack of clarity in the Council’s position and support of the scheme. The Strategic Director explained further the timeline of events and highlighted that the Department for Infrastructure’s Assurance Review Report might assist to clarify the current status of the Scheme and DfI’s future plans.


            After discussion, the Committee:


·        Noted the background to, and context of, the Council’s position on the York Street Interchange scheme;

·        Noted the chronology of events in relation to the YSI, including the formal considerations by the Council; and

·        Agreed that the Committee write to the Minister for Infrastructure to request a copy of the York Street Interchange Independent Assurance Review Report.



Future City Centre Programme pdf icon PDF 471 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report or Summary of Main Issues


1.1       To update Members on various matters in relation to city centre development and in particular those linked to the Future City Centre (FCC) Programme of work.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to;


·        Note the ongoing challenges of the city centre and it’s criticality to the recovery of the wider city and region; and the need to adopt a multi-faceted approach to the re-imagination and recovery of the city centre.

·        Note the ongoing Future City Centre Programme aimed at addressing the issues impacting upon the city centre and its alignment with the wider Belfast: Our Recovery framework priorities. A short presentation will also be provided at Committee.

·        Note that a Members workshop on the Future of the City is proposed to take place on 25th May, which will provide the opportunity to discuss priorities and future areas of focus.

·        Note the completion of the tender competition process to appoint a suitable consultant to deliver the next phases of the Bolder Vision City Centre Connectivity Study and the recommendation to move this piece of work to this next stage of delivery.


3.0       Main report


3.1       It is recognised that in the current context of the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic the landscape of the city centre is undoubtedly challenged. As highlighted in a recent ‘Centre for Cities’ report, Covid-19 has struck at the very heart of what cities do best. Centre for Cities do however emphasise the importance of thriving city centres, particularly given their criticality in terms of jobs and economic recovery for the wider regions, and reiterate that the reopening of city centres, supporting their recovery and further growth and longer term economic performance will be critical for the delivery of the Government’s ‘Building Back Better’ and ‘levelling up’ agendas. Despite the issues impacting on city centres as a result of Covid-19, predictions from various sources do however indicate that the long term trend towards urbanisation will continue over the next decade.


3.2       Belfast remains the economic driver for the region. The Regional Development Strategy 2035 specifically recognised the need to enhance the distinctive role of Belfast City Centre as the primary retail location in Northern Ireland. However even prior to the onset of Covid-19 pandemic the city centre and the retail sector in Belfast, like many other cities, suffered challenges from changes in consumer behaviours including trends towards more online shopping and the desire for enhanced experiences on the high street.  The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated these changes, with a number of city centre retail closures, many of which were the result of closures of chains of national stores across the UK.  


3.3       It is clear that Belfast, in line with other cities need to consider the purpose of the city centre and how it can adapt to becoming a multi-purpose location, combining retail and hospitality with business, residential, cultural, community and other facilities, alongside new ways of working and embracing innovation and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5b


Union Connectivity Update pdf icon PDF 160 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       The Union Connectivity Review aims to understand whether and how connectivity across the UK can support economic growth and quality of life, particularly in the context of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 


1.2       Following Council ratification, the Council’s response to the Call for Evidence, as reported to the CG&R Committee on 13th January 2021, was submitted to the review team in February 2021.  This report updates the Committee on the publication of the Interim Report for the Union Connectivity Review.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


-       Note the receipt of the letter confirming the publication of the Interim Report, the next steps and that the Union Connectivity Review is due to complete in summer 2021.


3.0       Main report


3.1       As reported to CG&R Committee on 13th January 2021, an independent review for the UK Government (Department for Transport) led by Sir Peter Hendy was being undertaken to assess how the quality and availability of transport infrastructure connections across the UK can support economic growth and quality of life, with a specific focus on NI connections.


3.2       The Committee agreed to the response to the call for evidence, noting that the deadline for receipt of submissions was 14 January 2021. This was subsequently ratified by Council on 1 February 2021.


3.3       Subsequent to this, an Interim Report ( was published on 10 March 2021 and provides high level information on the preliminary transport and economic assessment across England, Scotland, Wales and NI along with a summary of the stakeholder views.  It makes reference to the interdependencies that need to be factored in, including the New Decade New Approach commitments for NI.  The report also outlines the proposed assessment methodology to be used by the review team to determine transport and economic baselines and how it will support the identification of future recommendations and highlights that the potential development of a pan-UK strategic transport network will be a key focus of the Review going forward.


3.4       The next stage of the review will take a future-focused view of transport in the next 20-30 years and how transportation can contribute to the UK’s target of becoming net zero carbon by 2050, with a particular reference to the extent, essential domestic air travel can be made carbon neutral. The Interim Report also highlights that a discrete piece of work will be carried out to assess the feasibility of a fixed link between NI and the British mainland, including an outline cost and timescale for the link and associated works needed.


3.5       While the focus is on connectivity links between England, Scotland, Wales and NI, it acknowledges the role of integrated transport at a local level in contributing to overall connectivity.  The integration of land use and transport planning at key nodes is also noted as contributing to environmental benefits and improved quality of life by supporting healthier transport options such as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5c


Growing Business & the Economy


Sunday Opening Hours for Large Retailers pdf icon PDF 429 KB


            The Strategic Director provided an update on feedback which had been received from the engagement which had taken place with Trades Unions, retail representatives and relevant stakeholders following the Committee’s decision, at its meeting in March, to support extended Sunday opening hours.


            He reminded the Committee that its decision was subject to relevant Northern Ireland Executive guidance and would operate on a temporary basis, to be reviewed on 5th July, 2021, as part of the efforts to manage shopper volume and support social distancing.


            He advised that each of the BID representatives welcomed the temporary extension of additional opening hours on a Sunday. He stated that the large retailers and shopping centres, including CastleCourt, Victoria Square and the Kennedy Centre were also supportive of the decision, noting that the extension supported demand management and avoids any queuing at 1pm. They also offered customer feedback, suggesting that shoppers felt safe and comfortable to visit the retail outlets at a quieter time and that the extended trading hours on a Sunday made this possible.


            He highlighted that the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium’s view was that the extension was needed, while the lockdown and the effects of the pandemic continued, in order to enable social distancing and to keep shoppers and staff safe.


            He pointed out that the response from Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers confirmed that, while they had been understanding and pragmatic around the decisions that local authorities had taken with regard to the enforcement of Sunday trading restrictions in their areas, their opposition to extended Sunday trading hours had not changed. They felt that it did not offer businesses any real benefits and that it had a detrimental impact on retail workers, their families and their local communities.


            The Committee noted the feedback following the consultation which had taken place with Trades Unions, retail representatives and relevant stakeholders on the Council’s decision to extend Sunday opening hours (in line with Northern Ireland Executive guidance) on a temporary basis, to the 5th July 2021.



Strategic & Operational Issues


Notice of Motions - Quarterly Update pdf icon PDF 257 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee was reminded that all Standing Committees would receive a quarterly update on the Notices of Motion that they were responsible for.


            The Strategic Director advised that the first quarterly update for the Committee indicated that there were 21 active Notices of Motion and Issues Raised in Advance for which it was responsible for (Appendix 1).


            It was reported that, given the current pressures in responding to the pandemic, it had been difficult to afford the usual time towards progressing Notices of Motion. Nevertheless, there had been progress in a number of Motions and estimated completion dates and next steps, which required further updates, would be progressed and reported back at the next quarterly update.


            The Committee was reminded that, at the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on 20th November, it was agreed that Notices of Motion could be closed for one of two reasons, as follows:


·        Category 1 - Notices of Motion which contained an action that had been completed. All Notices of Motion within this category contained a specific task that had since been completed. It was worth noting that, when Committee agreed to action a Notice of Motion, there were sometimes additional actions agreed alongside the Notice of Motion. As these were not technically part of the Notice of Motion, they were taken forward through normal committee decision making processes. The Notice of Motion can therefore be closed, but additional actions related to it would continue to be progressed and reported to the committee. These additional actions were not contained in this report, but would be noted in the live database moving forward.

·        Category 2 - Notices of Motion had become Council policy or absorbed in to a strategic programme of work. These Notices of Motion did not contain a specific task that could be complete. Instead, they were more strategic in nature and required changes in Council policy and/ or strategy for long term outcomes. Those listed within this category had all been agreed by Committee and were now either Council policy or are currently being implemented through a Council strategy that was managed by a Standing Committee through the corporate planning process.


            It was reported that the following ten motions had been highlighted for closure under category 1 and two motions for closure under category 2. It was suggested that the Committee agreed that the following 12 Notices of Motion were now closed:


      Category 1 Recommended Closures:

·        Citizens’ Basic Income Scheme (Ref number 4):

·        Funding of PLACE NI (Ref number 19);

·        York Street Interchange Project (Ref number 39);

·        Dogs on Public Transport - Response from Translink (Ref number 40);

·        Sustainable Transport (Ref number 43);

·        High Speed Rail Connection (Ref number 44);

·        Update on Motion - EuroPride (Ref number 91);

·        Installation of additional Parklets on arterial routes and in neighbourhood areas (Ref number 119):

·        Alternatives to York Street Interchange (Ref number 150); and

·        Fra McCann's (MLA) Proposals for Free Car Parking at Hospitals (Ref number 151).


                  Category 2 Recommended Closures:

·        Supporting the Writers of Belfast  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7a