Agenda and minutes

No. Item




An apology for inability to attend was reported for Councillor Gormley.




            The decisions of the Chief Executive, taken under delegated authority, for the Committee and the minutes of the meeting of 11th August 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 September.




Declarations of Interest


            Councillor Donnelly declared an interest in respect of item 6b – ESF Update and Proposed Match Funding Approach, on the basis that he was employed by the Upper Springfield Development Trust, and left the meeting whilst the item was being considered.


            Councillors Brooks, Hussey, Maskey, McMullan, Murphy and O’Hara declared an interest in respect of item 5d – Correspondence referred from the Planning Committee – Participation and Practice of Rights (PPR) Project, on the basis that they were all Members of the Planning Committee which had referred the invitation to the City Growth and Regeneration Committee due to PPR being objectors to a current planning application within the former Mackies Factory site, and therefore would not participate in a site visit.  As the report was presented for noting only, the Members were not, therefore, required to leave the meeting.



Correspondence - Sunday Opening Hours pdf icon PDF 240 KB

Additional documents:


            The Strategic Director of Place and Economy reminded the Committee that, following its meeting on 9th June, the Chief Executive had exercised her delegated authority to approve the request from city business organisations to extend the current approach to Sunday opening for large retailers until 5th September, 2021. 


            He referred to the decision of Council, at its meeting on 1st July, where it had been agreed that the minute of the meeting of 9th June, under the heading “Sunday Opening Hours” was amended to provide “That the current extended Sunday trading hours are not brought back to the Committee for further extension beyond 5th September, 2021 and, that the Council acknowledges the full range of challenges facing retail in the city, write to The Executive Office requesting an urgent meeting of the Hight Streets Task Force”.


            He informed the Members that Democratic Services had, subsequently, written to the Junior Ministers who convene the Task Force and that a response had been received from the Department for Communities on their behalf, indicating that it was content to add the issue to the agenda for the Task Force’s next plenary meeting, once a date for it had been confirmed.


            The Strategic Director also drew the Member’s attention to correspondence which had been received from the Belfast Chamber in relation to this matter, which requested that the Council reconsiders its previous decision not to extend its permissions for early Sunday trading hours by larger retailers.


            The Committee noted the correspondence.



Matters Referred Back from Council


The Committee noted that the application Z/2014/0099/F,which related to 20a – 22 Old Cavehill Road, had been withdrawn at the request of the Planning Service to enable amended plans to be considered.



Just Eat Belfast Bikes Strategic Review pdf icon PDF 231 KB

Additional documents:


            The Director of Economic Development reminded the Members that, at its meeting on 1st September, the Council agreed that, in accordance with the Council decision of 4th May, the decision of the Chief Executive, taken under delegated authority for the City Growth and Regeneration Committee and the minute of the meeting of the Members of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee of 9th June, 2021, under the heading “Just Eat Belfast Bikes Strategic Review”, which had been called-in, be referred back to the City Growth and Regeneration Committee for further consideration.


            He directed the Members to the legal opinion of Counsel, which had been sought by the City Solicitor in accordance with Standing Order 47(c)(5), and reported that an equality impact assessment was underway and an update on that assessment would be presented to the Committee at its meeting in October.


            The Committee noted the report.



Presentations pdf icon PDF 526 KB


Belfast Rapid Transit 2 - Consultation on Route Options pdf icon PDF 316 KB


            The Chairperson welcomed Mr. C. Robinson, Belfast Rapid Transit, Phase 2 (BRT2) Programme Manager, and Mr. M. Fox, BRT2 Senior Project Engineer, from the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) to the meeting.


            Mr. Fox thanked the Committee for inviting representation from DfI to the meeting to discuss the Public Consultation for the BRT2 Programme.


            He reported that the upcoming milestone in delivering the programme was to develop an outline business case in order to demonstrate if it would deliver value for money.  He stated that that identifying a preferred route for the system was the next step and a public and stakeholder consultation was required as part of that process.  He outlined the process undertaken to arrive at a short list of routes for consideration, and he explained the rationale as to why particular options passed the long list assessment and others did not. 


            He highlighted that consideration had been given to how the services would route through the city centre and that the assessment had concluded that the options for a potential Antrim Road route and a Shore Road route could be taken forward to service north Belfast.  He added that a number of options had also been considered to service south Belfast and that the connection to Ormeau Road and the connection to Ravenhill Road were the two options that had passed the long list assessment.


            He pointed out to the Members that the proposal to extend the Glider network included an extension of the G2 service to link with Belfast City Hospital and Queen’s University, and that only one option had passed the long list assessment, a clockwise route from Dublin Road, to facilitate access to Queen’s University via University Road, connecting to Belfast City Hospital on Lisburn Road, by way of Elmwood Avenue.


            He referred to the more detailed criteria which had been used to conduct a short list assessment, such as catchment analysis to identify measures of social deprivation in the area, key attractors and levels of car ownership in the area.


            He reported that the short list assessment had further discounted a number of options, including Crumlin Road and Ravenhill Road and that, on completion of the shortlisting process, three options had been identified for public consultation and engagement, to link north and south Belfast:


1.      O’Neill Road via Antrim Road to Cairnshill;

2.      Longwood Road via Shore Road to Cairnshill; and

3.      O’Neill Road via Shore Road to Cairnshill.




            He stated that the public consultation period was from 26th July to 4th October, and that a virtual approach had been undertaken, to engage as widely as possible, by developing a bespoke digital platform containing all of the public consultation material, with a facility to leave feedback.  A freephone voicemail number had also been created as an alternative, where comments could be made, questions asked, and hard copy information material could be requested.


            He further added that the public consultation was being promoted on social media platforms and in the local press  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Renewed Ambition Programme Task Force


            The Chairperson welcomed Mr. J. O’Neill, Chair of Renewed Ambition and Chief Executive of Belfast Harbour, Mr. J. McDonald, Managing Director of GRAHAM Investment Projects, Mr. D. Mitchell, Property Director at Causeway Asset Management, and Ms. A. Feeney, Partner, KPMG, to the meeting.


            Mr. J. O’Neill thanked the Committee for inviting the Renewed Ambition Task Force to the meeting.  He outlined the range of organisations who were involved in the Programme who had a shared interest in the development and promotion of the city to generate investment.


            He reported that the programme agenda had been structured upon the following five pillars:


·        Programme and Content;

·        Advocacy and Engagement;

·        Media and Communications;

·        Research; and

·        Repository.


            He pointed out to Members that 14 key events had taken place, both physical and virtual, which focussed on housing regeneration, waterfront regeneration, city centre living and net zero city, with both internal and external stakeholders.


            He referred to two pieces of research which had been commissioned, one with regard to taking stock of what had been achieved by investments in the city over the past five years and the other with opportunities for further investment.


            Ms. Feeny reported that the power of the collaboration had facilitated a joined up and balanced perspective to strategic investment related matters which impact the city, for example, the proposal to set up an independent infrastructure commission for Northern Ireland, to help drive a long term infrastructure strategy, and the Northern Ireland Water Consultation.  She added that it had facilitated investment into research to develop collateral used to support engagement with government departments and help build investor confidence on a global stage, through the public sector having a more meaningful and better understanding of the challenges the private sector faced.


            Mr. O’Neill referred to high growth sector led regeneration, including Belfast Harbour Film Studios, Titanic Quarter Film Studios and Innovation City Belfast, establishing Belfast as a globally significant destination for innovation and investment.


            Mr. Mitchell highlighted that Merchant Square and Chichester House represented recent success in attracting investment into Belfast through office led regeneration and how the developments were important in attracting organisations to the city that, in turn, created graduate and apprenticeship opportunities and benefited associated service industries.


            Mr. O’Neill outlined how housing led regeneration contributed to the Belfast Agenda’s ambition to attract 66,000 new residents to the city by 2035 and he highlighted the wide range of positive impacts and how it would contribute to keeping Belfast globally competitive.


            Following a number of comments by the Members, Mr. O’Neill assured the Committee that the public sector had equal weighting within the programme, and at no point had any private sector representatives made propositions for absolute profit.  He added that the Renewed Ambition Programme employed a holistic approach to ensure social value. 


            Following discussion, the Director of City Regeneration and Development drew the Members’ attention to the following report which had been published alongside the presentation, which outlined the Public-Private Partnership Programme to date:


“1.0     Purpose of Report or Summary  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Restricted Items


            The information contained in the report associated with the following 1 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 item, 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.



Financial Reporting - Quarter 1 2021/22

Additional documents:


            The Strategic Director of Place and Economy reminded the Members that, at its meeting on 19th March, 2021, the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee adopted the recommendation to extend the five step finance strategy, which had been adopted in 2020/21 into 2021/22, subject to quarterly review. 


            He provided the Committee with an overview of the quarter one financial position and year-end forecast.


            The Committee agreed to note the content of the report.



Regenerating Places & Improving Infrastructure


A Bolder Vision Update pdf icon PDF 277 KB


            Members of the Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues



·        To update Members on the pre-engagement activity that will shape the A Bolder Vision public consultation document, including the workshop held with Belfast elected representatives on 23 August

·        To update on the planned 12-week public consultation starting on 27 September until 20 December 2021 and timeframe for completion of the Vision


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to note;


·        The update on the Connectivity Study: A Bolder Vision, including the feedback from the elected representatives’ workshop on the 23rd August, and planned Public Consultation in the autumn.  


3.0       Main report


3.1       A Bolder Vision for Belfast involves a fundamental rethink of how streets and places are used to make them attractive, inclusive, accessible, healthy, and vibrant places.  As reported previously Phase 1 of the City Centre Connectivity Study, A Bolder Vision (ABV), was agreed by Council and endorsed by the DfC and DfI Ministers and is underpinned by four Visioning Principles that will drive and shape the city centre:


·        Creating a healthy, shared, vibrant and sustainable environment that promotes well-being for all, inclusive growth and innovation; 

·        Fundamentally changing the centre of Belfast to prioritise integrated walking, cycling and public transport and end the dominance of the car;

·        Providing lively, safe, and green streets linking inclusive shared spaces to promote resilience and enhance our built heritage;

·        Removing severance and barriers to movement between the centre of Belfast and the surrounding communities to improve access for all.


3.2       As reported to this Committee on 11 August 2021, Phase 2 of the City Centre Connectivity Study will provide scenarios and projects to inform the future of the city centre by shaping large infrastructure projects and developing supporting or enabling schemes and initiatives. To support the development of these scenarios, five workshops took place in June with a range of community, voluntary, statutory and private sector stakeholders as part of a co-design process.   This included a cross-sector Visioning Workshop on 25 June that included Vienna’s former Vice Mayor who successfully implemented a transformation agenda comprised of numerous innovative, inclusive projects, as a keynote speaker. The following week four thematic workshops took place covering Community, Heritage & Culture; Infrastructure, Energy and Environment; Economic Recovery, Development & Tourism, and Connectivity (Transport and Digital).


3.3       Follow up meetings have taken place with IMTAC, the Transport Hub and within Council Departments.  A part of the governance structure, an Oversight Group comprised on the BCC Chief Executive and the DfI and DfC Permanent Secretaries met in early September.  This is a critical partnership that helps align the Vision across local and central government, including across critical policy, strategy, funding opportunities and capital investment. This early engagement with a range of stakeholders provided a chance to explore opportunities and challenges and consider interventions to support positive transformation of the city centre.


3.4       As a continuation of the co-design process, a workshop with Belfast elected representatives including Councillors, MLAs and MPs took place  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


DfI Autumn Report pdf icon PDF 272 KB

Additional documents:


            The Director of City Regeneration and Development advised the Committee that the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) had requested permission to present its Autumn Infrastructure Report to the City Growth and Regeneration Committee at its meeting on 23rd October.


            She pointed out to the Committee that, at its meeting in June, DfI had presented its Spring Update, and reminded the Members of the discussion and actions agreed on the following issues which had been raised with DfI at the aforementioned meeting:


·        York Street Interchange Independent Assurance Review;

·        Safe Cycle Network;

·        Implementation of the Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) policy and integration;

·        20mph zones in the city centre;

·        Pedestrianisation of the city centre; and

·        Car Park Strategy.


            The Director reported that officers were drafting the specification and Terms of Reference of the Car Parking Strategy and that it would be proposed that work would commence following the completion of the Bolder Vision for Belfast Public Consultation, due to the close relationship between the two pieces of work, and the importance of the Bolder Vision for Belfast in setting the strategic context or the future provision of infrastructure within the city centre, the findings of which would be used to inform the next stages of the Car Parking Strategy.


            She outlined the timelines for the Bolder Vision for Belfast public consultation and the Car Parking Strategy review and informed the Members that, the Bolder Vision for Belfast document would be finalised between January and April, 2022.


            Following discussion, the Committee agreed to:


·        to receive the DfI Autumn Report Update to the Special Meeting of the City Growth and Regeneration  Committee on 23rd October 2021;

·        note the issues previously discussed at the presentation of the Spring Report;

·        note the update on the Car Parking Strategy Action Plan and proposed timelines for the review of the Car Parking Strategy; and

·        request an update from DfI, in relation to the Belfast Metropolitan Transport System in advance of the October Special CG&R Committee meeting. 



DfC Revitalisation Programme Update pdf icon PDF 291 KB

Additional documents:


The Members of the Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1            To update Committee on the ongoing DfC Covid-19 Revitalisation Programme including the provision of covered cycle stands under the DfI Sustainable and Active funded element of the programme.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to;


·        Note the Extension of Time is now approved for the DfC Covid-19 Revitalisation Programme and the status summary provided;

·        Agree to the proposed covered cycle stand locations as identified within this report.


3.0       Main report


3.1       Background


            The CG&R Committee have received regular updates and provided approvals relating to the DfC Covid-19 Revitalisation Programme and it was agreed at the Committee Meeting of the 12th May that an extension of time would be sought from DfC to March 2022. This extension of time is required due to delays in the required statutory approvals process, compounded by an escalation in cost and demand on key materials and contractor provision.


3.2       The Committee also received an update on the status of the physical projects aligned with the ‘Re-Imaging the public Realm’, agreed to the funding allocation under the DfI Sustainable & Active Travel Fund for the E-cargo bike pilot, the Active/Sustainable Travel Hubs and expansion of the Belfast Bike network. Members were also updated on the progress of the covered cycle stands with further details to be provided to a future meeting of this Committee


3.3       Main Report


            In relation to the request for the extension of time DfC have now approved and provided the Letter of Variance to provide an extension of time to the programme until March 2022. While this extension of time allows until March 2022 officers, along with our key delivery partners, are committed to have the majority of projects delivered by December 2021. The majority of the Statutory Approvals are now in place and procurement has completed on the majority of the projects minimising the risk of overrun on a number of projects including the Linen Quarter parklets and Brunswick St Hub; the Union St and Warehouse Lane projects; the e-cargo bike pilot; the Belfast bike expansion; and the Business Cluster and Community Grant scheme.


3.4       The Cathedral Gardens Active Travel Hub and the Castle Place kiosk are currently in planning and works will commence pending the outcome of the decision, and DfI are scheduled to commence works on the Castle Place footpath extension and cycle lane provision in September 2021 pending final approval of the business plan.


            Covered Cycle Stands


3.5       At the May CG&R Committee meeting it was agreed that £100k would be allocated from the Covid-19 Revitalisation Programme for the provision of covered cycle stands, and members were updated that Sustrans was appointed to develop a strategic approach of identifying well-planned cycle parking across the city.


3.6       The report established a set of criteria for assessing cycle parking across the city, including existing provision of cycle infrastructure in the area, access to the DfI Cycle Network, suitable  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.


Request for Site Visit - PPR Project pdf icon PDF 242 KB

Additional documents:


            The Strategic Director of Place and Economy informed the Committee that correspondence had been received by the Planning Committee from the PPR Project with information relating to the Take back the City coalition, which was seeking the development of a prototype community on the site of the former Mackie’s Factory in west Belfast.


            He reported that PPR had invited the Members of the Planning Committee to attend a walkabout at the Mackie’s site, in order to assess the site’s potential for addressing housing needs and that, given the Planning Committee’s potential role in determining any future planning applications in respect of the site, officers were of the view that it would be inappropriate for Members of the Planning Committee to accept the invitation. 


            He advised the Committee that, at its meeting on 19th August, the Planning Committee agreed to refer the invitation to the City Growth and Regeneration Committee for consideration.



            Moved by Councillor Lyons,

            Seconded by Councillor Long,


            That the Members of the Committee note the correspondence and agree to accept the invite from PPR to a site visit at the former Mackie’s factory site.


            Councillors Brooks, Hussey, Maskey, McMullan, Murphy and O’Hara had declared an interest in relation to the item, in that they were all Members of the Planning Committee, and, for that reason, would not partake in a site visit, therefore, they refrained from participating in the decision making. 


            The remaining Members of the Committee agreed to adopt Councillor Lyons’ proposal.



Draft Ten Year Tourism Plan pdf icon PDF 460 KB

Additional documents:


            The Members of the Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       At a meeting of City Growth and Regeneration Committee in August 2020, it was agreed that a ten-year tourism plan for Belfast would be developed. The purpose of this report is to provide a draft of the proposed plan, Make Yourself at Home and seek approval to commence public consultation in October 2021.



2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


-       Note the contents of this report and agree to commence a 12-week consultation period from October 2021.

-       Agree to hold a workshop with Members to discuss in detail the priorities set out in the plan.


3.0       Main report


3.1       Members will be aware that at a meeting of City Growth and Regeneration Committee in August 2020 it was agreed that a new ten-year tourism plan was to be developed. The purpose of this 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  Pre Covid-19


            In August 2019 Belfast City Council agreed a new ten-year cultural strategy, A City Imagining 2020-2030, to drive transformation in the city. For the first time, the scope of this strategy brought together under one compelling vision a number of areas including tourism, culture, heritage, arts, events and festivals. A City Imagining (cultural strategy) and Make Yourself at Home (tourism plan) should be seen as part of an overall strategic approach with strong alignment and interdependencies.


3.3       A City Imagining acknowledges that whilst Belfast has enjoyed relative growth in tourism over recent years that in turn has supported regional development, it is necessary to continue to support sustainable tourism development and job creation. Belfast’s first community plan, the Belfast Agenda, also articulates the importance of delivering a culturally vibrant city both for residents and visitors as well as acting as an attractive driver for inward investment. In order to continue to build on the value of out-of-state tourism and welcome more overnight stays in our visitor accommodation it is essential that we collaborate with our tourism sector to evolve, broaden, deepen and expand the tourism offer currently available in Belfast.


3.4       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  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.


ESF Update and Proposed Match Funding Approach pdf icon PDF 430 KB


            The Director of Economic Development advised the Committee that, in May, 2021, the Department for the Economy advised that the proposed extension of existing funding agreements for a further year would not be possible, based on advice from the European Commission and instead, it had issued an open call for applications in June 2021, with a closing date of July 2021.


            He reported that Applications were currently being assessed and it was likely that decisions on successful projects would be made by mid-September and that, similar to previous years, successful projects would receive up to 65% of the requested budget and the project promoters would be expected to find the remaining 35%.  He explained that the remaining funding usually came from other government departments, council, public bodies or private organisations.


            He informed the Members tha,t as part of the application process, the Council had received match-funding requests from ten organisations and that officers had met with representatives from all projects to explain the Council’s position and the following proposed approach:


·        Maintain the match funding at £240,000 (subject to resource availability as part of the estimates process); and

·        Establish a transparent process for assessing which projects should receive match funding from the Council, and the amount of match funding that they should receive.


                 He added that it was proposed that a number of criteria would be established and formally communicated to those seeking match funding as part of the transparent process and that only those projects that were successful in securing DfE funding would be included as part of the process.


                 He informed the Members that a report would be presented to a future meeting of the Committee outlining the proposed projects to be supported and would include the financial allocation recommended for each project


                 After further discussion it was:


Moved by Councillor Beattie,

Seconded by Councillor Heading and


Resolved - That Committee agrees to the recommendations as set out in the report to:


·        note the Department for the Economy’s decision to open the last year of ESF funding (2022/23) to an open call;

·        approve the recommended approach for Council match funding, within the indicative funding envelope of £240,000 (subject to approval of 2022/23 estimates), consistent with the amounts and approach operated in the previous years; and

·        note that a report would be brought back to a future meeting of the Committee to advise on proposed funding allocations.


Furthermore, that the Committee agrees to invite representatives from the Department for the Economy to a future meeting of the Committee to discuss future funding.



Destination CQ BID Ballot pdf icon PDF 256 KB


            The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1            The purpose of the report is advise of the upcoming ballot for the Destination CQ BID (Business Improvement District) and to recommend that the council uses its available votes to support a ‘yes’ vote to enable the BID to extend its mandate for a further five years.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to;


·        Agree to use the council ballots to support a Yes vote for a new five year mandate for Destination CQ BID.


3.0       Main report


3.1       Members will be aware that Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) were established for the first time in Northern Ireland in 2015.  There are three BIDs in Belfast:


·        Destination CQ covers the Cathedral Quarter, encompassing the area from High Street to Great George’s Street, bounded by Donegall Quay and Millfield

·        Belfast One covers the retail core from City Hall to Royal Avenue, bounded by Victoria Street and Millfield

·        Linen Quarter BID covers the area from City Hall to Dublin Road, bounded by Joy Street and Durham Street.


3.2       Businesses located within the BID area agree a five-year business plan and pay a mandatory annual contribution (levy) to the delivery of the business plan, based on the NAV of their property.  BID services must demonstrate that they are additional to core services that are delivered by other statutory partners (such as the Council, Department for Communities, Department for Infrastructure etc.).  Belfast One was the first BID to be established in Belfast in April 2016 and was subject to a successful re-ballot at the end of March this year.  Destination CQ’s initial five-year mandate is now coming to an end and the re-ballot to determine whether or not the organisation will remain in existence for the next five years is currently open, with a closing date of 22 September 2021. 


3.3       All property owners are eligible for one vote per levy-paying property in the BID area.  Belfast City Council has sixteen properties in the Destination CQ area (largely car parks) and will therefore be entitled to a vote for each of the properties.


3.4       Members will be aware that all three BIDs have been playing an active role in the animation and management of the city centre since their establishment a number of years ago.  Destination CQ’s business plan for the next five year period includes a recap of its activities over the previous five years.  These include:


·        More than 1200 individuals from Cathedral Quarter businesses attended training events and took part in learning and development activities

·        Helped businesses to reduce their rate overheads by 30% through collective purchasing arrangements

·        Supported council in delivery of public realm improvements funded through DfC’s Revitalisation Fund to a value of £170,000

·        Worked with the other BIDs to successfully achieve Purple Flag – recognition of work to support a safe and vibrant night-time economy, as well as delivering events such as Belfast Restaurant Week and participating in collaborative promotion activities such as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Growing Business & the Economy


City of Music - Support for Autumn Programme 2021 pdf icon PDF 525 KB


            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 developments on the UNESCO City of Music designation process, strategic music development and music-based events due to happen as part of the city’s recovery programme in October and November 2021.

-        Request that Members consider supporting events due to take place in Belfast.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to;


-        Gradam Ceoil including broadcast event, local engagement programme and legacy bursary support.

-        NI Music Prize – incorporating UNESCO City of Music announcement


3.0       Main Report


3.1       In March 2018, as a result of the coalescence of many conversations which were happening in the city at the same time, Council backed a proposal for the city and its partners to make an application for the endorsement of UNESCO City of Music status which became a key ambition of the city’s cultural strategy A City Imagining 2020-30, setting out a commitment to applying for UNESCO Creative Cities Network membership via recognition as a UNESCO City of Music in 2021. Since 2018, Council have spent three years working on music development for the city including extensive engagement with the sector and city stakeholders to co-design the UNESCO application as well as a complementary music strategy and implementation plan to support the ambitions set out for UNESCO designation.  In June 2021 Belfast was officially shortlisted in the global competition for UNESCO City of Music status in 2021, the results of which will be announced mid-November 2021. This will coincide with a number of key music events for the city which we seek to support as part of our ongoing commitment to music in the city.


3.2       Support for these high-profile music events will contribute not only to the city’s cultural recovery but to a number of the aims set out in the Belfast Agenda and A City Imagining cultural strategy by contributing to:


-        An inclusive city where everyone actively participates in cultural life

-        A diverse city with vibrant public and cultural spaces

-        A city where creativity pushes boundaries

-        A city confident of our place in the world


            Gradam Ceoil


3.3       Broadcast Event


            Gradam Ceoil is an annual awards ceremony which celebrates the best of traditional Irish music and song. It comprises a gala event as well as citywide community outreach and engagement events which help to maximise reach and impact.


3.4       The live coverage on TG4 provides a meaningful opportunity to showcase Belfast as a city of music, arts and culture with the event often picked up by other broadcast platforms such as PBS America and online channels. As host city, Belfast continues to work closely with the event organisers to develop deep cultural and visitor engagement opportunities.  This year concludes Gradam’s four-year residency in the city and plans are underway for a bursary programme for local musicians to build on its legacy by strengthening and continuing Gradam Ceoil’s  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.


Support for NI Hospice Public Art Project pdf icon PDF 417 KB


            The Director of Economic Development reported that the Northern Ireland Hospice was collaborating with Wild in Art and Andersen Press to bring David McKee’s popular children’s character Elmer the Patchwork Elephant to life during 2022, through a physical and online trail to celebrate the 21st anniversary of their children’s in-patient unit - Horizon House and that Elmer’s Big Art Parades had taken place previously in Suffolk, Maidstone and London since 2019.


            He pointed out that, as part of the project, a herd of around 60 elephant sculptures would be colourfully decorated by local artists working with young people and community groups and would be positioned around key landmarks across Belfast and Northern Ireland from June 2022 before being auctioned off for charity in October 2022.


            He advised the Committee that, through delivering this largescale public art event in Belfast, NI Hospice note that the event would likely:


·        generate an estimated £20million economic impact including £1million media value through national and regional media coverage (note that similar projects such as Manchester’s ‘Bee in the City’ (2018) and Birmingham’s ‘The Big Hoot’ (2015) generated over £30million economic impact);

·        attract one million visitors across ten weeks and one million interactions via the trail app;

·        engage more than 10,000 local schoolchildren in over 30 schools;

·        offer employment to artists and showcase local and regional artists; and

·        promote health and wellbeing (the majority of visitors to ‘Bee in the City’ said the trail helped them to spend more time with their family)


            He pointed out how the project would contribute to the aims set out in the Belfast Agenda through the A City Imagining cultural strategy and the City Recovery Plan and that officers would provide additional support to the NI Hospice to connect with local groups and with artists to help promote the event. 


            The Committee agreed to note the content of the report and that Belfast City Council act as an official sponsor of the initiative at a cost of £35,000.




International Engagement Activities pdf icon PDF 264 KB


            The Director of Economic Development reported that, as Belfast City Council was a member of the Eurocities network, an invite had been received to the Eurocities Annual Conference which was scheduled to be held in Leipzig on 3rd and 4th November, 2021. 


            He informed the Members that the theme of conference was “The Power of Cities – Transforming Society” and that the focus would be on how the “Green New Deal” was being implemented at a local level and that it would explore additional mechanisms to push forward the role of cities as key conduits to move forward at pace in an volatile economic climate.


            The pointed out that the conference would provide the opportunity for elected representatives and senior city officials to input into the organisation’s workplan, discuss pertinent city issues and network, collaborate and debate with European officials and representatives from other cities.


            He advised the Committee that officers were recommending that it approve the attendance of the Chairperson or the Deputy Chairperson or nominee, plus one officer at the conference, at a maximum cost of £2,500.


            The Director reminded the Committee that over a five-year period, from 2015, the Council had supported the work of the Odyssey Trust in developing and delivering he Friendship Four Festival. 


            He reported that, based on the success of the Friendship Four Model, the Odyssey Trust was developing plans to host the Women’s Ice Hockey Teams that will represent both the USA and Russia a the 2022 Olympic Games.


            He advised the Committee that, as part of the engagement fixtures, officers were proposing that a civic reception for both teams would take place in City Hall on 10th November, with the costs associated with hosting the event, not to exceed £3,000.


            He reminded the Committee that the Confucius Institute in Northern Ireland had been established in partnership with Ulster University in Belfast, in 2011 and that its role was comparable to that of the British Council, in that it serves to promote Chinese culture, education and language across the world.


            He stated that he Institute had also been working closely with those NI councils that are engaged in activity within China, and had greatly assisted Belfast City Council in its work with Sister City Shenyang since 2016.    He added that Confucius Directors had engaged with the Council to explore the potential to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding in order to formalise the support services and agree an outline activity plan.  They considered that this approach would help them manage resources more effectively. 


            He reported that, based on the outline programme of activity, it was being proposed that a budget allocation of £5,000 be set aside for this work.  The outputs would be managed and reviewed by officers in order to ensure value for money and to inform future support.


            In response to a question from a Member, the Director of Economic Development agreed that he would explore the opportunity to attend the Eurocities Annual Conference remotely, and the costs associated with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.