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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall

Contact: Henry Downey, Democratic Services Officer  x6311

Items
No. Item

1a

Apologies

Minutes:

            Apologies for inability to attend were reported on behalf of Alderman Spence and Councillors Garrett, Murphy and Nicholl. 

 

1b

Minutes

Minutes:

            The minutes of the meeting of 5th June 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 July.

 

1c

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

            Councillor Beattie declared an interest in relation to item 7(b) – Future Arrangements for Committee – Strategic Workshops, in that he was on the Board of the Belfast Harbour Commissioners, which had sought approval to present the Belfast Harbour Strategy at a future meeting, and left the meeting whilst the matter was under consideration.

 

2.

Restricted Items

Minutes:

The information contained in the report associated with the following item 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 Section 6 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014.

 

2a

Update on City of Music Programme

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Development informed the Members that the ten-year Cultural Strategy, which was being developed currently, set out a number of strategic projects, including, as had been approved by the Committee on 7th March, 2018, a commitment to bid for UNESCO City of Music status.

 

He reviewed the rationale behind the decision to apply for such status and confirmed that work would focus primarily upon delivering a more joined-up and visible music offer, whilst increasing opportunities for production and civic engagement in music across the City on a permanent basis. Significant music-related activity had taken place or was due to take place throughout 2019/20, including the provision of ongoing support for home-grown activity and of funding for one-off events, which had helped to strengthen the profile of Belfast as a culturally vibrant destination, in line with the objectives of the Belfast Agenda. Further music development activity would also be supported throughout the year, as part of the Tourism, Culture and Arts Action Plan for 2019/20 and the ongoing City Centre Revitalisation Programme.

 

The Director reported that, in addition to the funding of one-off events and to build upon the success of the Amplifier Programme of 2018/19, an open call had been undertaken to invite project proposals from organisations producing music-related events between October 2019 and March 2020, in order to complement the wider cultural activity taking place in the City. Twelve proposals had been received, all of which had met the eligibility criteria. Of those, four had met the quality threshold of 65% and, accordingly, he recommended that funding totalling £52,555 be allocated as follows:

 

Applicant

Event/Activity

Amount

Moving On Music

Brilliant Corners Jazz Festival 2020

 

£8,105

Arts Ekta

Connections 2020

£15,000

 

Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts

Joining the Dots Creative Collective and 100 Club Events

 

£14,450

Oh Yeah Music Centre

 

 

NI Music Prize 2019

£15,000

           

The Committee adopted the recommendation.

 

3.

Presentations

4.

Draft Green and Blue Infrastructure Plan/Draft Open Spaces Strategy pdf icon PDF 91 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(Mr. A. Thatcher, Director of Planning and Building Control, attended in connection with this item.)

 

The Director of Planning and Building Control reminded the Committee that it had granted approval to formulate a Green and Blue Infrastructure Plan for the City, alongside the development of a new Open Spaces Strategy.

 

He provided an overview of the draft Plan and confirmed that it would respond to national and regional policy approach and priorities and guide more detailed strategies and action plans over time. The Plan acknowledged the benefits and multi-functionality of green and blue infrastructure assets across the City, with green assets including parks, playing fields, amenity open space, trees, garden and countryside and blue assets comprising rivers, water bodies and sustainable drainage systems. The overall network of assets would, he pointed out, result in wide-ranging benefits in terms of, for example, health and wellbeing and biodiversity and environmental resilience and would meet many of the objectives set out within the Belfast Agenda.

 

He reminded the Committee further that it had granted approval to undertake a consultation exercise on the draft Green and Blue Infrastructure Plan and on the draft Open Spaces Strategy. In view of the synergies between the documents, it had been agreed that the consultations should run concurrently. A twelve-week consultation had commenced on 17th June (available here) and a series of public engagement sessions were being held across the City in order to promote the draft documents and encourage the submission of responses prior to the closing date of 6th September. Responses would be incorporated into further draft documents and would be submitted to the Committee for approval in due course.   

 

The Committee noted the information which had been provided and agreed that the Department for Infrastructure be invited to provide at the Special meeting on Infrastructure issues taking place on 28th August an update on the current status of the Bicycle Strategy for Northern Ireland, in the context of the Belfast Cycle Network.

 

5.

Growing Businesses and the Economy

6.

Update on Growing the Economy pdf icon PDF 121 KB

Minutes:

The Director of Economic Development submitted for the Committee’s consideration the following report:

 

“1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues

 

1.1       The purpose of this report is to provide the Committee with an update on progress against a series of commitments set out under the Growing the Economy pillar of the Belfast Agenda and to secure approval to proceed with a number of initiatives within this work programme.  The update is in line with the activity approved by the Committee on 6th March, 2019.

 

2.0       Recommendations

 

2.1       The Committee is requested to:

 

                                          i.     note the Council’s performance and contribution to delivering against Belfast Agenda ambitions to grow the Belfast economy, focusing on the current support for Business Start-up, Growth and Investment;

 

                                         ii.     approve the allocation of £55,000 from the existing 2019/2020 Economic Development budget to support the delivery of the Scale Up initiative, in partnership with Catalyst Inc and Invest NI, which will commence in October 2019.  This funding was approved as part of the ‘Growing the Economy’ delivery plan that was agreed by this Committee at the meeting on 6 March 2019;

 

                                       iii.     approve the allocation of £50,000 from the existing 2019/2020 Economic Development budget to support the delivery of the social enterprise action plan.  This funding was approved as part of the ‘Growing the Economy’ delivery plan that was agreed by this Committee at the meeting on 6 March 2019; and

 

                                       iv.     note the application submitted to join the NESTA Upsteam Collaborative network, to develop new and innovative approaches to tackle educational attainment challenges.

 

3.0       Main Report

 

3.1       Members will be aware that the Council and its partners made a series of commitments as part of the Belfast Agenda to support inclusive economic growth in the city.  This work focuses on creating jobs by encouraging more new businesses to start up, driving additional investment to support growth in indigenous companies and attracting more Foreign Direct Investment. 

 

3.2       The Council has a key role in ensuring that these ambitions are met.  It has statutory responsibility for business start-up and also supports small local companies that have the ambition to grow.  Through its assets and influence, the Council also encourages other developments to come forward which will support the creation of new jobs by enhancing skills, providing appropriate workspace and accommodation and encouraging new investment in digital infrastructure. 

 

3.3       At its meeting on 6th March 2019, the City Growth and Regeneration Committee approved the delivery of the Growing the Economy work plan for the 2019/20 financial year. Since April, officers have been working on a range of activities to address the challenges around low levels of start-up, innovation, business competitiveness and productivity.  Whilst work is ongoing to deliver the 2019/20 work plan, the key achievements to date include;

 

·        Enterprise Awareness: 72 females have been engaged though our female enterprise support, and we are currently in the process of working with the Department for Communities (DfC) to launch a new self-employment initiative in the Autumn, focusing on those who are unemployed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Belfast-Boston Sister City Visit – Invitation to Lord Mayor pdf icon PDF 85 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

            The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting on 5th June, it had granted approval for the Chairperson and the Director of Economic Development (or their nominees), together with one officer, to participate in a Sister City trade mission to Boston from 22nd till 26th September.

 

            The Director of Economic Development reported that the Lord Mayor had, subsequently, received from his counterpart in Boston, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, an invitation to accompany the delegation. Mayor Walsh had stated that the Belfast – Boston Sister City agreement had been the first to be signed by him since assuming Office in 2014 and had pointed to the significant benefits derived by both cities in the intervening five years. 

 

            The Director pointed to the annual Friendship Four ice hockey tournament as being one example of the tangible benefits to Belfast of the City Sister agreement and stressed that the inclusion of the Lord Mayor would demonstrate the City’s continued commitment to the agreement. He added that the Council’s International Unit was co-ordinating the itinerary for the visit and that the additional cost incurred by the Lord Mayor’s participation would be met from the International Relations Unit’s current budget.

 

            The Committee approved the Lord Mayor’s participation in the Sister City trade mission to Boston.          

 

8.

Regenerating Places and Improving Infrastructure

9.

Update on Department for Communities’ Regeneration Guidance for Greater Clarendon and Sailortown pdf icon PDF 133 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee agreed to defer consideration of the report until its monthly meeting in September to enable a briefing to be held on the draft Greater Clarendon (Sailortown) Masterplan and on the work of the York Street Interchange Strategic Advisory Group.

 

The Committee agreed also that the proposed Gamble Street rail halt alluded to within the Masterplan be raised with the Department for Infrastructure at the Special meeting on Infrastructure issues taking place on 28th August. 

 

10.

City Centre Regeneration Task Force - Quarterly Update pdf icon PDF 104 KB

Minutes:

            The Director of City Regeneration and Development submitted for the Committee’s consideration the following report:

 

1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues

 

1.1       To update Members in relation to work around the City Centre Regeneration Task Force.

 

2.0       Recommendations

 

2.1       The Committee is requested to note the update on the City Centre Regeneration Task Force including:

 

-       progress around the co-commissioning of a study on city centre connectivity; 

-       review of non-domestic rates;

-       proposed City Centre Reference Group;

-       City centre living; and 

-       the proposal to invite representatives of Edinburgh City Council to present to the Committee lessons learnt from the ‘Edinburgh City Centre Transformation’ programme.

 

3.0       Main Report

 

3.1       The City Growth and Regeneration Committee, at its meeting on 7th November 2018, agreed to establish a City Centre Regeneration Task Force, jointly chaired by BCC’s Chief Executive and the Head of the Civil Service. Members were also advised that Committee would receive, on a quarterly basis, an update on the work of the Task Force.

 

3.2       An update on the work of the Task Force was provided to the City Growth and Regeneration Committee on 13th February. The Task Force has met four times since November 2018 and have meetings scheduled up until December 2019. A broad objective of the Task Force is to maximise the collective potential of our regeneration efforts to transform the city centre aligned to respective and collective priorities and identify an action plan accordingly. It was recognised that there was an immediate need to drive, and resource targeted city centre recovery efforts in response to the Bank Buildings fire but also to consider the longer term revitalisation and regeneration of the city centre from an integrated and sustainable perspective.

 

3.3       In terms of a medium/long term plan for city centre regeneration, there was a consensus that the Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy (BCCRIS) was a solid basis upon which to take forward a refreshed action plan and prioritisation in respect of the regeneration of the city centre. BCCRIS was developed and agreed by the Council and sets out the policies, projects and priorities to underpin the regeneration and growth of the city centre and surrounding areas.  The Department for Communities (DfC) have also adopted BCCRIS as one of their policies. The delivery of the outcomes within BCCRIS is however dependent upon a range of stakeholders across the public, private and third sectors, anchor institutions and the residential and business communities.  

 

3.4       A stocktake and gap analysis of the various policies, projects and priorities in BCCRIS was undertaken to coincide with the work of the Taskforce.  This included a review of what was progressing, highlighted gaps and identified how the priorities aligned with the outcomes set out in the Belfast Agenda, Programme for Government and other strategies. As previously reported this has formed the basis of the City Centre Regeneration Task Force action plan which is focused on the prioritisation of actions and projects or interventions in three  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Briefing - Infrastructure Presentation pdf icon PDF 104 KB

Minutes:

            The Director of City Regeneration and Development submitted for the Committee’s consideration the following report:

 

“1.0  Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues

 

1.1       The purpose of this report is to brief Members on key city infrastructure issues in advance of presentations from Northern Ireland Water (NI Water), Department for Infrastructure (DfI) Roads and Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company (NITHC) at the special City Growth and Regeneration Committee being held on 28thAugust.

 


 

2.0    Recommendation

 

2.1    The Committee is requested to note this report and identify any strategic city infrastructure questions in advance of the Special City Growth and Regeneration Committee on 28thAugust 2019.

 

3.0    Main Report

 

Background

 

3.1    The City Growth and Regeneration Committee, at its meeting on 5th June, agreed to receive presentations from NI Water and NITHC. Representatives of DfI Roads will also attend to present the 2019/2020 Annual Report.

 

3.2    The Belfast Agenda recognises that infrastructure is key to the delivery of sustainable development and identifies that infrastructure planning for Belfast needs to be taken forward in a strategic and integrated way. A core goal of the Agenda is to work in partnership to plan for sustainable urban infrastructure.

 

Belfast Infrastructure Study

 

3.3    The City Growth and Regeneration Committee, at its meeting on 13thSeptember 2017, agreed to commission the Belfast Infrastructure Study. The study is intended to present a realistic phased approach to infrastructure delivery to support the growth outlined in the Belfast Agenda. Arup were appointed to develop the Infrastructure Study in July 2018 and are currently working to finalise a draft report by end of summer 2019. City Growth and Regeneration Committee, at its meeting on 13thFebruary 2019, agreed to hold a Members Briefing at which the initial out-workings of the Infrastructure Study will be presented. This will be scheduled during autumn 2019.

 

Infrastructure Initiatives

 

3.4    Below is a brief overview of strategic infrastructure initiatives relevant to NI Water, NITHC and DfI Roads and a summary of each organisation’s responsibilities. The brief descriptions below are intended to assist Members when considering strategic city infrastructure questions in advance of the Special City Growth and Regeneration Committee on 28th August.

 

NI Water

 

3.5    NI Water is a Government Owned Company and non-departmental public body within DfI.  NI Water was set up in April 2007 as the sole provider of water and sewerage services in Northern Ireland.

Living with Water Programme (LWWP)

 

3.6    The LWWP is led by DfI’s Water and Drainage Policy Division. LWWP is developing a Strategic Drainage Infrastructure Plan for Belfast (Belfast SDIP) to manage the flooding risk in Belfast, address the risk of infraction proceedings under the Water Framework and Urban Waste Water Treatment Directives in respect of Belfast Lough, and support economic growth.

 

3.7    The sewerage networks and wastewater treatment works serving Belfast require significant upgrades to facilitate future growth and development. One of the key aims of LWWP is to support economic growth. In addition, the Executive’s North Eastern Flood  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Update on City Centre Revitalisation Programme pdf icon PDF 159 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

            The Committee considered the following report:

 

“1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues

 

1.1       The purpose of the report is to provide Members with an update on the ongoing delivery of the City Centre Revitalisation Programme.

 

2.0       Recommendations

 

2.1       The Committee is requested to:

 

                                          i.     note the update on the building cordon and the anticipated timescale for the Council to receive a planning application for the next phase of rebuild;

 

                                         ii.     note the work underway to develop concept proposals for additional pop-up parks at locations in the city centre;

 

                                       iii.     note the work underway with DfI and DfC to commission a study to explore options and create a vision for the future development of the city centre enabling both pedestrian enjoyment and public transport access;

 

                                       iv.     note the emerging concept designs for lighting pilots to be brought forward for Castle Street and Castle Arcade;

 

                                         v.     approve funding up to £45,000 towards an enhanced ‘Cultural Night/Day Programme;

 

                                       vi.     approve funding up to £5,000 to support enhanced Taste the Island activity as part of a programme of activity by the Linen Quarter BID;

 

                                      vii.     approve funding up to £4,500 to support a second Belfast Restaurant Week and weekend food market;

 

                                    viii.     approve funding up to £3,000 to support the inaugural Belfast Oyster Festival to take place in the city in October 2019; and

 

                                       ix.     grant a Market Licence for the Tesco ‘Taste of Northern Ireland’ event scheduled for 20th – 22nd September in Custom House Square.

 

3.0       Main Report

 

            Background

 

3.1       Since the detailed update provided to the Committee on 5th June, officers continue to engage with key stakeholders to further develop the specific proposals being brought forward as part of the City Revitalisation Programme to enhance the vitality and sustainability of the city centre, in the context of the budget envelops previously agreed by the SP and R Committee on 22nd February 2019.  The work being progressed as part of the City Revitalisation Programme is closely aligned with the existing strategies to enhance and develop the city centre including the Belfast Agenda and Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy. 

 

            Update on the Cordon

 

3.2       As Members will be aware, the building façade retention schemes on Bank Buildings are now in place and the cordon has been reduced which has increased access, albeit that the road width is still significantly reduced at this location Traders continue to raise concerns about the impact this cordon is having on their businesses, particularly those on Royal Avenue. DfI has recently introduced additional railings at Castle Junction and Royal Avenue to improve pedestrian flow and safety. A number of retailers in Royal Avenue have expressed concern over the size of the cordon, the duration of the cordon and its effect on vehicular and pedestrian access to Royal Avenue. Belfast City Council officers continue to echo these concerns from retailers to the DfI, Translink and Primark’s contractor. City Council officers have received assurances from Primark that the cordon in place is as small as it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

Positioning Belfast to Compete

14.

Conference Tourism : Economic Impact and Future Development pdf icon PDF 116 KB

Minutes:

The Director of Economic Development submitted for the Committee’s consideration the following report:

 

“1.0     Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues

 

1.1       The purpose of this report is to update Members on the growth of conference tourism over recent years and the potential for future growth as a key element of tourism development in the City.  It also includes a request to extend the eligibility period for the current Conference Subvention Scheme to 2030. 

 

1.2       Belfast City Council and Tourism NI both provide financial support towards a Conference Subvention Scheme which is administered by Visit Belfast.  This provides financial incentives to encourage Conference organisers to choose Belfast as a destination for their event. 

 

1.3       The Scheme has been a critical element of Belfast’s ability to attract conferences and boost the City’s growing reputation as a premier conference location.  Last year, Visit Belfast reported that Belfast welcomed over 55,000 national and international delegates to the city. This was a 77% increase on the previous year and is estimated to have generated £52million for the local economy.  In 2018, Belfast was also named as the Best Events Destination by Conference and Incentive Travel (C&IT) while the International Conference Centre (ICC) won the accolade of Best Events Venue.   

 

1.4       One feature of business and conference tourism is the long lead-in times for attracting new business.  As part of the operation of the Conference Subvention Scheme, Visit Belfast have requested that the Council and Tourism NI agrees to a longer timeframe for the scheme.  This will allow them to make recommendations for support for events that are planning to come to the city in coming years.  It does not involve a request for additional financial support beyond the current commitments.   

 

2.0       Recommendations

 

2.1       The Committee is requested to:

 

                                          i.     agree to extend the Conference Subvention Scheme end date to 2030, subject to resource availability;

 

                                        ii.     note the importance and economic value of conference tourism to the city and the projected growth of this sector; and

 

                                       iii.     note the importance of support mechanisms such as the Conference Subvention Scheme in attracting events.

 

3.0       Main Report

 

3.1       Key Issues

 

            The Conference Support Scheme is administered by Visit Belfast and provides financial support to encourage conference organisers to choose Belfast as a destination for their event.  The key objectives of the Conference Support Scheme are:

 

·        to raise the profile of Belfast and Northern Ireland as a leading business and conference destination

·        to consolidate existing investment in Belfast and Northern Ireland hotel and conference infrastructure

·        to increase the contribution of business and conference tourism to Belfast and Northern Ireland economy

·        to change the international perception of Belfast and Northern Ireland

·        to encourage investment to Belfast and Northern Ireland

·        to grow the number of leisure visitors by encouraging conferences to run partner and extender programmes and

·        to increase the value of business tourism and visitor spend through encouraging partner, social and extended programmes.

 

3.2       The Scheme has been a crucial element of Belfast’s ability to attract  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.

15.

Strategic and Operational Issues

16.

NILGA Event - Changing Places: Planning, Place-Shaping and Place-Making in Northern Ireland pdf icon PDF 80 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

            The Strategic Director of Place and Economy drew the Committee’s attention to a forthcoming conference entitled “Changing Places: Planning, Place-Shaping and Place-Making in Northern Ireland, which had been organised by the Northern Ireland Local Government Association. The event, which would be taking place in Enniskillen on 8th October, would cover a range of topics of particular interest to Committee, such as housing, infrastructure, local job creation, smart cities and sustainable tourism. He pointed out that there would be no conference fee and sought the Committee’s approval for the Chairperson, the Deputy Chairperson (or their nominees), together with two Council officers, to attend. 

 

            The Committee granted the approval sought.

 

17.

Future Arrangements for Committee - Strategic Workshops pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Minutes:

            The Committee considered the following report:

 

“1.0     Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues

1.1       The Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, on 21st June, agreed to hold a workshop at 5.00 p.m. on 8th August to focus on the priorities for the Council. Following this, there will be a specific workshop for the City Growth and Regeneration Committee to further consider its priorities and the direction of travel for 2019-20 within the corporate context and ongoing commitments, as agreed on 5thJune 2019.

 

1.2       In addition, the City Growth and Regeneration Committee also discussed the need for a series of strategic discussions / workshops to allow for more detailed engagement and to support their role in taking informed decisions on issues of strategic importance for the growth and regeneration of the city.

 

1.3       This report identifies the initial topics for focused strategic workshops for the Committee. These will be programmed over the next 6 months, to support the decision making process.

 

2.0       Recommendations

 

2.1       The Committee is requested to:

 

i.       approve the list of topics that require a focused strategic workshop;

 

ii.     note that the strategic workshop on City Regeneration and Development, which will include Strategic Site Assessments, will be held on 4th September at 5.00 pm;

 

iii.    agree, where possible, to use the scheduled dates for the Special City Growth and Regeneration Committee meetings for these workshops; and

 

iv.    agree to receive a presentation on Belfast Harbour’s Strategy at the Special City Growth and Regeneration Committee meeting on 25th September. The workshop to consider the Committee’s priorities will follow immediately after this item on 25thSeptember.

 

3.0       Main Report

 

3.1       Key Issues

 

The Committee considered a number of detailed reports on key issues for the city at its initial meeting in June 2019, such as City Centre revitalisation and Strategic Site Assessments. Whilst these reports provided an update on ongoing programmes of work, it is important that the new Committee has ownership of these issues and is in a position to make informed decisions about the future direction of travel. As these issues tend to be complex and have long-term impacts for the city and its communities, it was suggested that specific strategic workshops should be held, which would allow the scheduled Committee meetings to continue to deliver its responsibilities while also managing the need for informed discussion.

 

3.2       A number of issues were highlighted during the course of the meeting that would benefit from more focused strategic workshops to inform the future direction of work. The issues identified include:

 

-   City Development and Regeneration, including Strategic Site Assessments – consider the emerging proposals and proposed next steps

- Economic research insights - an overview of the opportunities, strengths and challenges for the city, with a focus on topical issues

-   Inclusive growth

-   Employability and skills

-   City centre recovery/revitalisation

-   Transport and car parking

-   Engagement with the city centre communities.

 

3.3       The Committee will note that additional issues may be identified as the work of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.

18.

Finance, Procurement and Performance

19.

Financial Reporting – Quarter 4 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 88 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report which set out the financial position of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee for the fourth quarter of 2018/2019. The report confirmed that the year-end position for the Committee was an underspend of £11,000 (0.1%), in an annual budget of £17.4m, which was well within the acceptable tolerance of 3%. The underspend could be attributed primarily to reduced expenditure on programme costs and premises costs, which were offset by increased staffing costs, subscriptions and grants and reduced income. 

 

            The Committee noted the information which had been provided.  

 

 

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