Agenda and minutes

Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall

Contact: Henry Downey, Democratic Services Officer  x6311

No. Item




            Apologies for inability to attend were reported on behalf of Alderman Spence and Councillors Beattie, Heading and Howard.





            The minutes of the meetings of 15th January were taken as read and signed as correct.  It was reported that those minutes had been adopted by the Council at its meeting on 3rd February.



Declarations of Interest


            No declarations of interest were reported.



Matters Referred from Council Meeting


Motion - Sustainable Transport pdf icon PDF 287 KB


The Committee was reminded that, at the Council meeting on 3rd February, the following motion, which had been proposed by Councillor Groogan and seconded by Councillor O’Hara, had, in accordance with Standing Order 13(f), been referred to the Committee for consideration:


“This Council supports the promotion and expansion of sustainable transport in Belfast as a critical step in addressing the dangerous levels of air pollution and congestion across the City and in the context of our climate emergency.


With the appointment of a new Minister for Infrastructure, the Council should ensure that the Minister is clear about our commitment to sustainable transport options and the need for urgent action on climate.


Therefore, the Council agrees to write to the Minister to state that the Experimental Traffic Control Scheme Permitted (Taxis in Bus Lanes), which was proposed by her Department, does not have the Council’s support and to urge her to not progress this further, instead focusing efforts on further measures to enhance the provision of public transport, cycle infrastructure and pedestrian priority in the City."


            Councillor Groogan reminded the Committee that the Department for Infrastructure had, in 2017, introduced a twelve-week pilot scheme, which had granted approval for all taxis, including those for private hire, to use the Belfast Rapid Transit routes in East and West Belfast and connecting routes in the City centre. She reported that the Department had deemed the results of that scheme to be inconclusive and, as a result, had brought forward the more extensive Experimental Traffic Control Scheme (Taxis in Bus Lanes) 2018, which had the potential to run for up to twelve months and had been extended to include all bus lanes in the City. However, in the absence of a Minister, the scheme had been unable to proceed at that time. Both of the aforementioned schemes had, she pointed out, been supported by the Council.


            She explained that, should the Department for Infrastructure proceed with the proposed pilot scheme, now that a Minister was in place, the number of taxis using bus lanes would increase from 500 currently to approximately 5,000. That would have a detrimental impact upon air quality, increase traffic congestion, add to cyclists’ safety concerns and jeopardise any planned or future transport infrastructure improvements. She stressed that the promotion and expansion of sustainable transport initiatives remained the most effective way of addressing the climate emergency, traffic congestion and poor air quality and, accordingly, she urged the Committee to reconsider its current policy, endorsing the use of all taxis in bus lanes, and support her motion.   


            After discussion, it was


Moved by Councillor McLaughlin,

Seconded by Councillor Donnelly,


      That the Committee agrees to defer consideration of the motion to enable a report to be submitted to its next monthly meeting providing details of any research/data available on the impact on air quality, traffic congestion etc. of permitting all taxis to operate in bus lanes.


            On a recorded vote, nine Members voted for the proposal and seven against and it was declared  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Motion - High Speed Rail Connection pdf icon PDF 288 KB


            The Committee was reminded that, at the Council meeting on 3rd February, the following motion, which had been proposed by Councillor S. Baker and seconded by Councillor Garrett, had been referred to the Committee, in accordance with Standing Order 13(f), for consideration:


“This Council welcomes the commitment in the ‘New Decade New Approach’ document which states that “The Irish Government is supportive of serious and detailed joint consideration through the NSMC of the feasibility of a high-speed rail connection between Belfast, Dublin and Cork, creating a spine of connectivity on the island.”


As this is also a Council priority, the Council will seek a meeting with Irish Government officials, Council officers and party group leaders to discuss this proposition further.”


            After discussion, the Committee agreed to adopt the motion.                  




Restricted Items


            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 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.



Draft Belfast Off-Street Parking Order

Additional documents:


            (Mr. G. Doherty, Off-Street Car Parking Manager, attended in connection with this item.)


            The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting on 11th September, it had approved a draft Belfast Off-Street Parking Order for public consultation, together with the commissioning of suitably qualified persons to undertake the consultation and apprise the Council of their findings.


            The Off-Street Car Parking Manager reported that suitably qualified persons had now been appointed and that the twelve-week consultation period was scheduled to commence on 6th March. He reported further that the Committee had, within the draft Order, agreed to increases in the hourly tariffs for a number of car parks. However, due to an administrative oversight, those had not been applied to the season ticket tariffs for the car parks in Little Donegall Street and Station Street. He confirmed that Schedule 2 of the draft Order had since been amended and that a small number of minor changes had also been made to the wording of parts of the Order to allow for greater clarity.


            Accordingly, the Committee approved the following revised draft Order for public consultation:




“Draft Belfast Off-Street Parking (Public Car Parks) Order 2020

Made                                      XXXX?2020

Coming into operation          XXXX      2020   





1.       Citation and commencement

2.       Interpretation





3.       Specified parking places

4.       Vehicles of a specified class

5.       Position in which a vehicle may wait

6.       Parking bays for disabled persons’ vehicles

7.       Parking bays for electric vehicles

8.       Maximum period for which a vehicle may wait

9.       Use of parking place other than for parking

10.     Issue of licences

11.     Surrender and revocation of licences





12.     Requirement to pay appropriate tariff                                                                                                  

13.     Payment of charges

14.     Pre-paid tickets

15.     Use of telephone parking system

16.     Display of printed tickets

17.     Particulars of tickets

18.     Season tickets

19.    Blue Badge parking





20.     Requirement to stop the engine of a vehicle

21.     Trading in a parking place

22.     Sounding of horn

23.     Driving in a parking place

24.     Ball games

25.     Miscellaneous activities

26.     Means of passage

27.     Consumption of intoxicating liquor

28.     Use of entrances and exits, and direction of travel

29.     Erection of structures and lighting of fires

30.     Supermarket trolleys

31.     Reserving a parking bay

32.    Suspension of parking places

33.    Use of car park or sections of for the purposes of temporary meeting place






Belfast City Council ([a]) makes the following Order in exercise of the powers conferred by Articles 10, 11, 13, 14 and 26(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation (Northern Ireland) Order 1997([b]) and Off-street Parking (Functions of District Councils) Act (Northern Ireland)2015.

The Council has consulted such persons as the Council considered appropriate in compliance with paragraphs 1 and 2 of Schedule 4 to that Order.

PART 1  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Regenerating Places and Improving Infrastructure


Pragma Retail Analysis and Emerging Future City Centre Programme pdf icon PDF 417 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of the report is to present to Members:


·        the key findings and recommendations in the Executive Summary of the Retail Analysis as developed by Pragma Consulting Limited, as circulated; and


·        the work undertaken by the Place and Economy Department in developing the Future City Centre Programme and its programme strands.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is requested to:


                                             i.           note the key findings and recommendations in the Executive Summary of the Retail Analysis, as developed by Pragma Consulting Limited;


                                           ii.          note the progress in relation to shaping the Future City Centre Programme and its programme strands aligned to the Retail Analysis;


                                          iii.          agree that officers develop the programme strands through engagement with city stakeholders and provide the Committee with an annual update on collective benefits and outcomes of the programme; and


                                          iv.          approve the attendance of the Chair and Deputy Chair (or their nominees) at the Belfast Chamber Belfast Forward Conference on 27th February, 2020.


3.0       Main Report




3.1       Belfast City Centre is currently experiencing significant levels of development and investment across a range of sectors, with a number of major regeneration and development projects set to come forward in the years ahead. Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy (BCCRIS) recognises that the city’s large-scale development projects are catalysts for wider city regeneration. This is further supported by the Belfast Agenda and the Local Development Plan. Fundamental to the delivery and development of the city’s ambitions, and ensuring that no one is left behind, is the Council’s Inclusive Growth Strategy.


3.2       The retail sector is crucial to Belfast’s physical and economic development. BCCRIS provides a vision for retail in Belfast City Centre as ‘providing a regionally competitive retail offer and a shopping experience that is unmatched anywhere else in Northern Ireland’.


3.3       Pragma Consulting Ltd was commissioned in April 2018 to undertake a Retail Analysis of Belfast City Centre to identify the challenges facing the city’s retail sector and inform recommendations on how best to address these.  The scope of the Retail Analysis was developed in conjunction with the Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce (BCTC).


3.4       At the City Growth and Regeneration Committee meeting in September, Pragma Consulting Ltd presented the key findings and market intelligence on the retail sector and identified a number of recommendations and opportunities within the city’s retail offer. The attached Executive Summary of the Retail Analysis Report documents the key findings and recommendations.


            Key Findings


3.5       Key findings as documented in the appendix which has been circulated and as presented to the Committee in September 2019:


3.6            1. Catchment and shopping patterns: Belfast is the major shopping destination in Northern Ireland. Benchmarking its performance against comparable cities highlights the opportunity to draw more shoppers into the city centre from the existing catchment area. Belfast currently has a market share of £2.4bn and ranks 21st alongside Aberdeen and it is the relevance  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Future City Centre Programme: City Centre Connectivity Study - Draft Vision pdf icon PDF 400 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       To present to the Committee the draft Phase 1 of the City Centre Connectivity Study and seek approval to progress to Phases 2 and 3.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is requested to:


                                              i.          endorse Phase 1 of the City Centre Connectivity Study;


                                             ii.          agree to progress to Phases 2 and 3; and


                                           iii.          agree to develop demonstration and pilot projects that helps build interest and discussion in the city about the future shape and functions of the city centre. 


3.0       Main Report


            City Centre Connectivity Study


3.1       The Belfast Agenda outlines the City’s ambition to promote the development of sustainable transport and includes promoting walking and cycling. The support, and concept, of sustainable place-making in the city reflects one of the key policies in the Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy (BCCRIS), which seeks to create a green, walkable, cycable city centre.  It specifically references the lack of green space and tree-lined streets, and identifies the need for rebalancing the scales between tarmac and soft landscaping and recognises that there is no provision for children in the city centre.


3.2       Recent events in Belfast City Centre, including the fire at Bank Buildings in 2018, have prompted calls to examine how the heart of the city could be reimagined to create more sustainable, liveable and people-focussed places that better meet the needs of those who live, work, visit and invest here. The future success of Belfast as a regional driver will require a clear understanding of the changing role of the City Centre, and ensuring the right mix of offices, retail, hotels, tourist attractions, creative industries, universities and colleges, housing and social infrastructure. It is acknowledged that the city centre must adopt to provide the requirements of this changing environment and must also provide for inclusive access and growth, ensuring all communities have the opportunity to benefit from enhanced employment, leisure and social opportunities.  


3.3       At the City Growth and Regeneration Committee meeting on 5th June and subsequent amendments at Council on 1st July, it was agreed to examine how the city centre should develop to take into account the emerging changing use in a way that is accessible and welcoming for all, and to include an exploration into models of pedestrianisation and other initiatives that facilitates the development of the city centre enabling both pedestrian enjoyment and sustainable transport access.


3.4       The Council, DfC and DfI agreed to jointly commission the City Centre Connectivity Study that will develop a shared vision for the city centre. After a competitive procurement process, a multi-disciplinary team from Jacobs was appointed. 


3.5       The aim of the Connectivity Study is to agree a shared approach to creating a more attractive, accessible, safe and vibrant city centre which will improve economic, societal, health and environmental wellbeing for all by:


·        creating healthy, vibrant, sustainable and shared spaces;

·        providing improved access for people walking and cycling;

·        creating places for people to live;  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Growing Businesses and the Economy


Future City Centre Programme - Sundays in the City pdf icon PDF 332 KB


            The Committee agreed, with nine Members voting for and six against, to defer consideration of a report on the above-mentioned matter to enable the Political Parties to engage further with the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW), if required.



Strategic/Operational Issues


City Growth and Regeneration Committee Priorities 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 258 KB


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       To provide an overview of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee’s priorities for the financial year 2020-21, which have been developed in the context of the current work programme, the workshop with members in September and the draft Corporate Plan. This has been informed by the commitments that are in place and the ongoing work that the Committee has oversight for in the delivery of the Belfast Agenda.


1.2       These priorities have been developed to highlight the Committee’s role in delivering on the Belfast Agenda priorities and demonstrate the centrality of growing and diversifying the local economy to deliver inclusive and sustainable growth and  improve the quality of life in Belfast so that by 2035:


-       Our economy supports 46,000 additional jobs

-       Our city is home to 66,000 people

-       There will be 33% reduction in the life expectancy gap between the most and least deprived neighbourhoods

-       Every young person leaving school has a destination that fulfils their potential


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is requested to approve the priorities for 2020/21, which will inform the development of the more detailed Committee Plan.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       Key Issues


            The City Growth and Regeneration Committee is responsible for:


-       the development and implementation of strategies, policies, programmes and projects directed towards regeneration and growth of the city in the context of outcomes agreed in the community (Belfast Agenda) and corporate plans and other corporate strategy decisions; and


-       oversight of the exercise of Council functions in relation to economic development, urban development, tourism, culture and arts, European and international relations, car parks, city markets, city events, Belfast Castle, Malone House and Belfast Zoo.


            Key Priorities


3.2       The Committee has a key role in overseeing the delivery of several key strategies and frameworks aimed at driving regeneration and inclusive and sustainable growth of the city.  In particular:


-       The Belfast City Centre Regeneration & Investment Strategy (BCCRIS) 2015-2030 was produced and adopted by the Council in 2015 and; subsequently adopted as policy by the Department for Communities (DfC). The Strategy provides the framework for change to drive the regeneration of the city core and its surrounding areas.

-       Delivering inclusive growth through a series of frameworks and strategies for economic development, employability and skills, international relations and the Cultural Strategy. These strategies and frameworks work together to support a balanced approach to sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the city.


3.3       These have directly informed the draft 2020/21 priorities for the Committee’s consideration and are key mechanisms to deliver the shared ambitions of the Belfast Agenda.  The Committee will receive more detailed work programmes and reports to support delivery of these priorities.


3.4       The draft priorities have been shaped by the current work programme which was agreed by Committee in June 2019; the feedback from the Committee workshop in September; and the draft Corporate Plan, which was subject to public consultation.  It also  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.


Issues Raised in Advance by Members


Air Passenger Duty

(Councillor Graham to raise)


            The Committee agreed, at the request of Councillor Graham, that a report be submitted to a future meeting providing details of any research/data which has been produced on the impact of Air Passenger Duty on business, inward investment, exporters and tourism in the City.  It agreed also that the report should examine the funding implications associated with any loss of revenue and the environmental impact, should Air Passenger Duty be abolished.



Supporting Artists in Belfast

(Councillor Nicholl to raise)


            Councillor Nicholl, who had requested that this item be placed on the agenda, drew the Committee’s attention to difficulties which were being faced currently by grassroots arts organisations in the City and suggested that it might wish to obtain further details from representatives of those organisations who were in attendance.


            The Committee agreed that it would be beneficial to hear from the representatives and, accordingly, Ms. J. Morrow, Interim Chief Executive, University of Atypical, and Mr. R. Hilken, Visual Arts Ireland, were welcomed by the Chairperson.


            Ms. Morrow informed the Committee that there were currently approximately seventeen studios/artist-led organisations in the City, accounting for around 450 artists. Those organisations were unique in the context of the cultural infrastructure and, whilst their contribution could not be measured using traditional methods, such as income generated through ticket sales and audience numbers, their importance to the visual culture of the City had long been recognised. 


            She reported that essential support infrastructure for artist-led galleries, organisations and studios was being severely threatened due to the insecurity of short-term leases on the buildings in the City centre from which they were operating and funding issues generally.  A number of organisations had closed in the past year and several others were facing imminent closure. That, she pointed out, would impact upon activities such as the Late Night Art initiative, which helped to promote the City’s night time economy. She explained that these difficulties could be attributed primarily to three factors, namely, regeneration and property speculation in the City centre, the politics of austerity and the consequential loss of public funding and a lack of specific support for grassroots infrastructure as an essential part of a vibrant arts ecosystem.     


            She highlighted the fact that the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s INSPIRE | CONNECT | LEAD five-year strategic framework for developing the arts 2019-24 had made no mention of studios, workspaces or other production resources for artists. In addition, the Council’s core multi-annual funding (CMAF) scheme presented difficulties, in that income/turnover and time/sustainability thresholds had to be met, which had a detrimental impact upon those grassroots organisations and artist studios with low operating costs. 


            In terms of potential solutions, Ms. Morrow requested that the Council, firstly, affirm its support for grassroots arts organisations in the City and, secondly, make available to them capital grants to raise match funding, secure charitable loans to purchase buildings and establish co-ownership schemes. She called also for the introduction of a developer contribution initiative, similar to that in place for public realm projects, and for discussions to take place at a strategic level between the three main funders of grassroots art activity in the City, namely, the Council, the Arts Council for Northern Ireland and the Department for Communities to address the issues which she had raised.


            Mr. Hilken reiterated the points which had been made by Ms. Morrow and invited the Members to attend a meeting of the Belfast Visual Arts Forum being held on 25th February to discuss the current crisis  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.