Agenda and minutes

Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall

Contact: Carolyn Donnelly, Democratic Services Officer 

No. Item




No apologies for inability to attend were reported.





            The minutes of the meeting of the Committee of 9th February 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 March.



Declarations of Interest


            No declarations of interest were reported.




Visit Belfast - Annual Business Plan 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 524 KB

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The Chairperson introduced Ms. K. Thomson, Chief Executive, National Museums NI and Mr. G. Lennon, Chief Executive, Visit Belfast, to the Committee and they were admitted to the meeting.


            Ms. Thomson outlined how the tourism sector had been profoundly affected by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic over the previous two years and how it was a key sector that would contribute to the rebuilding of the city’s economy.  She stated that Visit Belfast had been developed through consultation with Council officers, to be fully aligned to the Council’s key strategic priorities and to act as a key vehicle in rolling out the ten year tourism strategy, Make Yourself at Home.


            Mr. Lennon provided a presentation on Visit Belfast’s Rebuilding City Tourism Plan which focused on supporting tourism recovery. He outlined how a new regenerative model for tourism would contribute towards building a resilient economy, delivering inclusive growth and protecting the environment.


            He highlighted that tourism was key to the city’s wellbeing and that it had generated £417million in tourism spend in 2019 and had accounted for 21,863 tourism related jobs.  He pointed out that tourism had been a catalyst for community and societal regeneration, and referred to examples, such as the Cathedral Quarter and the Crumlin Road Gaol.


            He reported that Visit Belfast had put in place a number of key initiatives, policies and themes to create robust framework to rebuild city tourism over the subsequent three years.


            He outlined the progress to date in 2021/22 and informed the Committee that the progress now placed Belfast as the fifth most transformed destination in 2021 and was nineteenth out of seventy-three destinations from around the world, on the Global Destination Sustainability Index.  He stated that the outlook for 2022 was positive, due to conference bookings, cruise calls, cultural events and milestones, and Belfast’s designation as a UNESCO City of Music.


            Mr. Lennon summarised Visit Belfast’s policy framework, key themes and sustainability and impact action plan and he outlined the marketing focus and framework.


            He informed the Committee that, with regard to business tourism, Visit Belfast’s objective was to secure enough conferences to bring £40million to the local economy and 82,000 bed nights.  He reported that a campaign was to be developed to target business visitors to encourage them to extend their stay or return in the future for a leisure visit.


            He referred to visitor servicing and destination management and outlined a model that would be used to enhance the visitor experience and spread the benefit of tourism.


            He pointed out that there were 144 cruise calls expected in 2022/23, generating £11million economic spend from around 300,000 cruise passengers.  He reported that Visit Belfast had been working with Belfast Harbour to develop a cruise sustainability plan.


            During discussion, the representative’s answered a range of questions in relation to targeting tourists who arrive in Dublin, the environmental impact of cruise liners, tourism levies and accessibility.


            In response to a query from a Member, the Director of Economic  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Restricted Items


            The information contained in the report associated with the following two items 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 following two items as, due to the nature of the items, there would be a disclosure of exempt information as described in Section 42(4) and Section 6 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014.



A Bolder Vision

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The Director of City Regeneration and Development provided the Committee with an update on the Bolder Vision consultation and key moves and the ongoing engagement with the Ministers for Communities and Infrastructure. 


            She outlined the emerging governance proposals and referred the Members to a Memorandum of Understanding that would form the basis of a framework for collaborative partnership working under the Bolder Vision.


            The Committee:


·        Noted the findings from the Bolder Vision consultation and Key Moves Update Report and agreed to re-affirm the Council’s position in relation to the Key Moves to ensure embedment of those principles within the final Bolder Vision Strategy and the emerging Catalyst Opportunities Plan;


·        Noted the ongoing engagement with the DfC and DfI Ministers and other partners, including workshops with Translink, DfI Section Office and the Capital Projects, Policy and Public Transportation Directorates;


·        Agreed to the proposed BCC/DfI/DfC partnership and Memorandum of Understanding approach, subject to agreement from DfI/DfC;


·        Agreed to delegate authority to the City Solicitor to finalise and agree the Memorandum of Understanding document with DfI and DfC, with the finalised document to be brought back to the Committee at the appropriate time; and


·        Noted the planned BCC/DfI/DfC statement that would follow the Ministerial meetings and the next steps to bring forward the Bolder Vision Strategy and Catalyst Opportunities Plan.



Financial Reporting - Quarter 3 2021/22

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The Strategic Director of Place and Economy provided an overview of the Quarter 3 finance report.


The Committee noted the report and the associated financial reporting pack.



Regenerating Places & Improving Infrastructure


High Street Taskforce Update pdf icon PDF 496 KB

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The Director of City Regeneration and Development reported that the High Street Task Force had been finalising the recommendations report following the recent call for evidence which would represent a collaboration across various sectors, .That would include central and local government, business, academia and the third sector, and would summarise the findings, advice and recommendations of the High Street Task Force.


            She pointed out that the work of the High Street Task Force had been aligned to the focus of the Committee’s priorities and Committee Plan as well as to other Council led programmes and priorities and that the launch of the High Street Task Force report and recommendations had been proposed for 21st March and would, in due course, be presented to the Executive for its consideration.


She informed the Members that the Living High Street Craft Kit, which had been developed through a cross-sectoral co-design of high streets and town centres led by the Ministerial Advisory Group on Architecture and the Built Environment, had been due to be published in the coming months and would provide an innovative way of considering how high streets could be redesigned by communities and combine social, environmental and economic insights.


The Committee:


·        Noted the update in relation to the work of the High Street Task Force and the intention to launch a High Street Task Force report and recommendations following the recent call for evidence process;


·        Noted the alignment of the High Street Task Force work to the strategic priorities of Council and of the Committee; and


·        Noted the imminent publication of the Ministerial Advisory Group ‘Living High Streets Craft Kit’ and the opportunity to use the approach of co-design, particularly in neighbourhood centres and on arterial routes.



Blue and Green Infrastructure Funding pdf icon PDF 296 KB

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The Director of City Regeneration and Development provided the Committee with an overview of the following report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       To update the Committee on DfI’s Blue Green Infrastructure Funding relating to Active Travel Projects


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Members of the Committee are asked to


·        Note the Letter of Offer from DfI for capital funding to deliver Active Travel Enabling projects and that officers are currently in ongoing discussions with the Department on funding draw down and around the conditions of the LoO in particular the tight timeframes and risk in terms of delivery of the projects as outlined within this paper. A verbal update on the outcome of these discussions will be provided to Committee.

·        Dependant on the outcome of the ongoing discussions with DfI (with verbal update to be provided to Committee) to agree to recommend to the SP&R Committee advanced procurement of the covered cycle stands and cycle repair stands with further details on locations to be brought back to this Committee. Whilst the LoO is very welcome and is aligned to Council priorities officers would however highlight that any recommendation to accept this will need to consider any risk to delivery and potential financial implications in terms of clawback etc.

·        Dependant on the outcome of the ongoing discussions with DfI, to agree to the delivery of secured cycle units through an Expression of Interest approach to identify suitable delivery partners, with the outcome on the EoI including specification requirements to be brought back to a future meeting of the Committee;

·        Note the proposal to develop the designs for the Greater Clarendon North South Spine, and agree that Officers work with DfI and others to secure funding and to bring the designs through to RIBA Stage 3


3.0       Main report


3.1       Background


            The CG&R Committee received an update, and provided approvals, in September and October 2021 on the Active Travel Enabling projects under delivery through the DfC Covid-19 Revitalisation Programme, including a new temporary Active Travel Hub in Cathedral Gardens, expansion of the Belfast Bike scheme and replacement of the fleet, the establishment of an e-cargo bike pilot scheme and 10 new covered cycle parking locations located on Council assets across the city. The Committee were also informed that there was potential to seek additional funding through the DfI Blue Green Infrastructure Fund to deliver additional covered cycle stand locations as well secure cycle parking that could be delivered in partnership with, for example Translink or Multi-Story Car Park suppliers that can provide publicly accessible locations within a managed and serviced area.


3.2       Report


            As reported to the SP&R Committee in January 2022 Council submitted proposals to DfI for greenway and active travel projects that could potentially receive capital funding this financial year. These proposals were put forward based on receiving funding by October/November 2021 to facilitate completion by the end of the financial year. The submitted proposals had a focus on enhancements to live projects  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Academy of Urbanism Congress pdf icon PDF 264 KB


The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       To make Members aware of the upcoming Academy of Urbanism Congress that is planned to be held in Belfast, 8-10 June 2022.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       Members are asked:


·        To note the proposal to host the annual Academy of Urbanism Congress in Belfast on 8th June 2022 and the opportunity for Council and its partners to shape and participate in the programme. 

·        To note the emerging key themes that will shape the agenda and potential venues and agree to a Council contribution of £10,000 to be met from existing budgets.


3.0       Main report


3.1       Background: The Academy of Urbanism


            The Academy of Urbanism (AoU) is, a not-for-profit, politically independent network of people and organisations devoted to creating and sustaining great places. Its mission is to understand, promote and celebrate what makes great places and practically apply these lessons to improve towns and cities across Europe and beyond.


3.2       Membership to AoU is open to everyone involved in the design, development and management of great places, with specific membership opportunities for young urbanists, professional academicians and community leaders. Members span city management and policymaking, community leadership, town planning and urban design, academic research and teaching, arts and cultural development, infrastructure and engineering, property management, politics and media. The Academy supports the Urbanism Awards that celebrate excellent practical delivery and generate a continuing resource of best practice guidance. By way of local example, recently the Connswater Community Greenway was voted as the best place in the UK and Ireland at the 2020 Urbanism Awards. Additionally, there are specific knowledge-sharing programmes such as Place Diagnostics, which can help places to engage people in challenging urban issues and they also publish a monthly journal, ‘Here and Now’.


3.3       AoU Annual Congress, 8-10 June Belfast 2022


            As part of the AoU delivery of programmes and events that support places and people to explore and share good placemaking practice, its major flagship event includes an annual Congress, showcasing a different European city each summer.  The AoU are proposing to hold their 2022 AoU Congress in Belfast.  Past host cities include Eindhoven, Cork, Copenhagen, Rotterdam, Dublin, Aarhus, Glasgow, and Bristol.  The Annual Congress is an inspiring, thought-provoking and entertaining opportunity to exchange ideas and hear leading-edge thinking from urbanists around the globe. It is an opportunity to embed the Academy within a city and use the assembled expertise of attendees to tackle live local issues alongside local partners through hands-on workshops, walking tours, and discussions.


3.4       The AoU are very much of the view that a successful Congress owes as much to the passions of local community participants as to the insights and inspiration of invited presenters. Based on previous years, there are usually 100-120 participants that attend Congress.  It is anticipated that a number of these are drawn from the local area, but others will be visitors to Belfast and will have a chance to explore the city  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Public Consultation on Sydenham to Holywood Walking, Wheeling and Cycling Routes pdf icon PDF 238 KB

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The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       To update Members that the Department for Infrastructure is running a public consultation on the Sydenham to Holywood Walking, Wheeling and Cycling routes from 11 February – 1 April 2022 by way of a short questionnaire.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       Members are asked to:


·        Note that the Department for Infrastructure is undertaking a public consultation, by way of a short questionnaire (link in report below) on the Sydenham to Holywood Walking, Wheeling and Cycling routes. 

·        Note that there has been ongoing engagement by DfI with the East Area Working Group and Council officers in relation to the future delivery of the routes and that this is likely to continue to be an appropriate mechanism for future discussions.  Members may however wish to respond directly to the current questionnaire and reports can be brought back to the relevant Committees as appropriate if these proposals progress further.


3.0       Main report


3.1       On 3 June 2021, the Minister for Infrastructure published ‘Planning for the Future of Transport – Time for Change’. This document articulates the Minister’s vision that active travel becomes a pillar of change within towns and cities to cut emissions, to improve health and wellbeing, and to better connect families and communities. It commits to the adoption of the sustainable transport hierarchy where prioritisation is given to sustainable travel by providing for walking and wheeling, then cycling, then public transport ahead of private vehicle use.


3.2       The Minister followed this by publishing ‘Making Belfast an Active City – Belfast Cycling Network 2021’ on 4 June 2021. This document set out her ambition to make Belfast a more cycle-friendly city and provides a blueprint for the development and operation of the cycling infrastructure in the city for the next ten years. The Belfast Cycling Network proposes a number of routes between Belfast and North Down:


·        a greenway type route alongside the Belfast to Bangor railway line; and

·        a walking and cycling path alongside Holywood Road and the A2 north of Tillysburn.


3.3       In February 2022 DfI opened a consultation on the Sydenham to Holywood link and are seeking views as to whether priority should be given to developing one of three routes and noted that the first two routes are already within the Belfast Cycling Network, but the third route is not a part of the Network:


a)     a path along the railway from Sydenham through Holywood Exchange (red)

b)     a path along Holywood Road through Holywood Exchange (green)

c)     upgrade the cycling route alongside the Sydenham ByPass (blue)


3.4       Each of the proposed routes is between 4.0 and 4.8km long and all of them start at the underpass vehicular entrance to Victoria Park and terminate near Kinnegar, Holywood. The routes would also provide a link between the existing Comber and Connswater Greenways and Holywood Exchange and the North Down Coastal Path.  The preferred route will determine which scheme will be included  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Positioning Belfast to Compete


Culture Work Programme 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 498 KB

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The Director of Economic Development and the Senior Manager, Culture and Tourism, provided the Committee with an overview of 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 current status of the ten-year cultural strategy, A City Imagining and seek approval for key actions in 2022/23 aligned to the implementation of year 3 of the strategy.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


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

-       Agree the actions for 2022/23 including the budget implications at 3.16 to be met from existing departmental budgets.


3.0       Main report


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


3.2       Despite the challenges of Covid-19 significant progress has been made in delivery against strategic targets in year one and year two of the strategy. The strategy made a commitment to publishing an annual report in order to demonstrate the impact of cultural development on the city’s wider agenda. Due to the pandemic this was not completed in 2021 however a report will be presented to Committee in quarter one of the new financial year that summarises 2020/1 and 2021/2 with a view to it being circulated to key city stakeholders.


3.3       In 2021/22 this work included:


-       £3.08m funding through 117 awards via the following schemes: Cultural multi-annual funding including support for Arts/ Heritage organisations and Festivals/Events – 51 organisations supported; Transition funding for 11 organisations that had previously been in receipt of multi-annual funding; four Pathfinder awards for organisations not in receipt of core public sector support; Creative Bursaries for 10 individuals; 14 A City Imagining targeted cultural leadership grants; five Access and Inclusion grants in partnership with DfC; 20 Community Festivals Fund in partnership with DfC and four Creative Development Awards.

-       Additional investment was also made through the Creative Communities programme as part of Peace IV.

-       Completion of cultural mapping of the city including infrastructure audit.

-       Development of Co-design Framework for culture, arts and heritage.

-       Strategic Delivery Body for Festival 2022 including commissioning of Our Place in Space and support for four additional projects.

-       Securing UNESCO City of Music Designation and developing of music strategy.

-       Delivery of meanwhile use at 2 Royal Avenue.


3.4       As the city hopes to emerge from the pandemic, year 3 of the strategy will seek to combine cultural recovery with renewal in line with the commitments and priorities set out in A City Imagining.


3.5       Investing in the cultural sector


            At a meeting of City Growth and Regeneration in February 2022 recommendations for core-multi annual funding were agreed providing support to 42 organisations for two years as well  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.


Draft Music Strategy pdf icon PDF 276 KB

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The Director of Economic Development reported that, following on from Belfast having been designated as a UNESCO City of Music in November, 2021, it had been recognised that Council would need to reinforce the strategic ambitions around music development in the city, in order to complete the necessary requirements for the UNESCO designation. 


            He outlined the statistics, which had been gathered through an economic appraisal, undertaken by Sound Diplomacy, which included:


·        In 2019, the Belfast music ecosystem had delivered a total economic impact of 3131 jobs, which represented 2.05% of the city’s employment; and


·        The direct employment generated in 2019 (1781 jobs), represented 1.16% of the workforce in Belfast, which had been a larger contribution than other sectors, such as construction of buildings.


He referred to engagement, which had taken place and stated that robust consultation and partnership building, through continued work with the City of Music Steering Group, since 2019.


            He pointed out that the draft music strategy had four strategic themes and that each had four strategic priorities.  He stated that the strategy put forward recommendations for the following areas:


·        Leading the Way – The Belfast Music Governance Model, including recommendations on a dedicated music officer/office working on strategic delivery;

·        Take Back the City – The Belfast Music Leadership Model, including the recruitment of a new Belfast Music Board to oversee the strategic delivery;

·        Friends of Belfast Music – Partners and Allies, including developing partnerships with Arts Council Ni, Tourism NI and BBC to deliver on shared ambitions; and

·        Something to Sing About – Belfast Music Branding and Communications Strategy, including promotion of our UNESCO City of Music status locally and internationally.


He outlined to the Committee the next steps required in order to implement the strategy from September, 2022.


            The Committee:


·        Noted the content of the report;


·        Approved the draft music strategy to commence a 12-week public consultation in April 2022; and


·        Agreed to receive a presentation of the final strategy, for consideration, following completion of the consultation.