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 8th and 22nd 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 4th July.



Declarations of Interest



No declarations of interest were reported.



Restricted Items


            The information contained in the report associated with the following three 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 five 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.



Year End Finance Report 2021-22

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the Quarter 4 financial position for the City Growth and Regeneration Committee which included a forecast of the year end outturn and a summary of the financial indicators together with an executive summary.


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



A Bolder Vision Update

Additional documents:


            The Director of City Regeneration and Development, and the Senior Development Manager, provided the Committee with an update on the A Bolder Vision strategy and action plan that included details of the ongoing engagement with the Ministers for Community and Infrastructure.


            By way of presentation, the Senior Development Manager outlined the following key elements of the initiative:


·        Background;

·        Consultation;

·        Action plan;

·        Key move 1: Creation of a civic spine with a focus on people;

·        Key move 2: Reimagine the inner ring and end car dominance;

·        Key move 3: Promote city centre living;

·        Key move 4: Embrace the River Lagan and waterfront;

·        Delivery; and

·        Finalisation.


            The Committee noted the progress to date on the A Bolder Vision Strategy, including the emerging interventions under the Four Key Moves and the update on the Ministerial and Chief Executive discussions regarding the Donegall Place and Royal Ave element of the Civic Spine Key Move.



Update on Major Events


            The Director of Economic Development provided the Committee with an update on the proposed programme for international events as part of the city’s Cultural Strategy and Tourism Plan.


            He outlined the financial implications of the events and sought approval to proceed as required.


            Moved by Councillor Murray,

            Seconded by Councillor Hanvey,


      That, should Belfast be shortlisted as a potential host to Eurovision 2023, the Council would immediately engage with Ministers in order to progress and seek support to submit a full bid to host the event.


On a recorded vote, ten Members voted for the proposal and seven against and it was declared carried.


For 10

Against 7

Alderman Dorrian; and

Councillors Bunting, Hanvey, Hussey, T. Kelly, Murray, Nelson, O’Hara, Spratt and Whyte.


Councillor Murphy (Chairperson); and

Councillors Beattie, Duffy, Ferguson, Heading, Maskey and McLaughlin.


            The Committee further agreed:


·        To note the content of the report and the proposed programme of international events as part of an overall strategic approach to tourism and cultural development;

·        To note the progress and the associated bid costs for the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann; and

·        To Retrospectively approve expenditure costs in relation to attendance at the 2022 Fleadh Cheoil in Mullingar in August 2022.



Requests to Present


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.



Translink - Lagan Junction to Yorkgate Track Renewal pdf icon PDF 257 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee agreed to receive a presentation from representatives of Translink at its Special Meeting in September.



Ulster University - Belfast Campus Update pdf icon PDF 270 KB


            The Committee agreed to receive a presentation from representatives of Ulster University on the opening of the Belfast Campus at its meeting in September.



Regenerating Places and Improving Infrastructure


DfC Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation pdf icon PDF 270 KB

Additional documents:


            The Director of City Regeneration and Development informed the Committee that the majority of the Department for Communities Covid-19 Recovery Revitalisation Programme had been completed.


            She reported that there had been £4.019M of funding which had been invested in the following strands of the programme:


·        Signage and dressing;

·        Physical interventions and streetscape improvements;

·        Access and connectivity;

·        Animation, lighting and marketing; and

·        Sustainable and active travel measures.


            She explained how the funding had been distributed through various grant initiatives directly to businesses to purchase equipment and encourage people back into the city and pointed out that an additional £600K which had been agreed by Council to deliver another phase of funding would commence in autumn.


            She outlined various projects which had benefited from the Business Cluster and Community Grants across the city and a number of projects which had been undertaken across the city centre, which included the provision of outdoor seating, greenery, parklets, games areas and performance areas.


            She referred to the Council led sustainable and active travel measures and highlighted the improvements, which included 400 modernised Belfast Bikes, 10 covered cycle stands and additional docking stations, delivery of the active travel hub at QUB, and the scheduled launch of the active travel hub in Cathedral Gardens in September which has received revenue funding for a temporary two year period from the PHA and Ulster University and the proposals to further expand on the Active Travel Enabler projects which were under development.


            She referred to feedback which had been received and to the impacts, benefits and learnings of the programme and, in response to a question from a Member regarding improvements of the public realm and pedestrianisation, she stated that A Bolder Vision could incorporate some of the learnings.


            The Committee:


·        Noted the current status of the DfC Covid-19 Revitalisation Programme, including the findings of the Mid-Term Evaluation Report and associated brochure;


·        Noted that an Extension of Time had been granted for the Castle Place Kiosk and the Entries Phase 2 projects to the 31st December 2022; and


·        Noted the current level of underspend within the DfC Covid-19 Revitalisation Programme and reallocation of funding to the Bolder Vision.



Growing Business and the Economy


Update on Belfast-Dublin Economic Corridor pdf icon PDF 174 KB


            The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to provide the Committee with a progress update on the Dublin-Belfast Economic Corridor (DBEC) and work on a development plan, strategy and action plan to deliver on the partnership’s objectives. 


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Members of the Committee are asked to;


·        Note the contents of this report and progress to date to develop the Dublin-Belfast Economic Corridor.


3.0       Main report


3.1       At its meeting on 12 January 2022 Members were provided with an update on progress to support the development of the Dublin-Belfast Economic Corridor including progress on the creation of a development plan and ongoing work on developing a strategy and action plan. Members noted the progress to date and endorsed the developmental plans of the partnership.


3.2       Since the last committee update the Development plan for the partnership has been completed. The strategy and action plan will be finalised in September 2022.  Belfast City Council continues to act as lead partner on contract management alongside a project steering group made up of partnership representatives. The work to date has made a number of recommendations to support the ongoing development of the partnership including:


·        A phased development timeline up to 2030.  In the short term from 2022-2024 priorities include set up of initial partnership personnel, consideration of legal structures, and identification of funding options.

·        DBEC should remain an informal partnership model in the short term, together with an MOU, with a view to exploring independent legal status for the partnership in the future. This will be funded initially through council contributions.

·        DBEC should be established with a bottom-up governance structure, largely based on the current existing structure.  This includes a board of 12 growing to 16 in the long term to include private sector representatives.

·        The partnership should be housed at a single location with staff and resources to lead and manage delivery of the partnership aims.

·        Key areas of focus should include Research and Development, Trade and Investment, Skills and Infrastructure and Connectivity.


3.3       Stage 2 includes the development of a strategy for the partnership. The strategy aims to articulate a vision for the partnership to enable sustainable economic growth across the region. This part of the project will undertake a review of the economic context and key emerging work areas at a local and regional level and their potential to impact the region, and assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to achieving sustainable economic growth across the region.  This will provide an evidence base for action, identifying areas of focus for the partnership to address future opportunities and address any gaps in existing provision.


3.4       Stage 3 includes the development of an action plan.  This aims to build on the foundations of the development plan and strategy.  This piece of work will prioritise key areas of work for the partnership aligned with the key thematic areas to 2030.  The action plan aims to clearly  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


Business Start up and Growth: Future Resourcing and Proposed Interim Approach pdf icon PDF 292 KB


            The Committee considered 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 future funding landscape for economic development activity, with a specific focus on the Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF). 


1.2       The report also sets out a proposed interim approach supporting to business start-up, pending confirmation of funding from a range of external sources to deliver a new model of support.  In addition, it details a proposed intervention to encourage more growth-focused and scaling businesses, building on a successful partnership model. 


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


·        Note and endorse the interim approach to business start-up support from April 2023

·        Note and endorse the proposal to invest in the Way to Scale programme up to a maximum of £40,000

·        Note the update on Shared Prosperity Fund, including challenges and opportunities presented for the council and other local partners. 


3.0       Main Report


3.1       Business Start-Up support


            At the April 2022 meeting of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee, members were advised of the work that was under way to revamp the approach to business start-up post-2023. All 11 councils jointly commissioned an outline business case which presents future options to enhance the quality of the support provided to businesses, in line with our ambitions as set out in the Belfast Agenda.  The report noted that there was still a significant programme of work to do to seek the additional financial resources required to deliver this new programme of activity and to ensure that it can be operational once the current programme concludes in March 2023.  Members were advised that a report setting out further detail on the proposed approach as well as the financial and operational implications will be presented at a future meeting of this committee.


3.2       The end of March 2023 marks something of a perfect storm.  It is the final date for expenditure of EU funding (ERDF and ESF).  It is also a break point in the current delivery contract for the Go for It programme.  Other important context points include the ongoing Review of Invest NI (referenced elsewhere in the reports) and the lack of clarity over their future areas of focus, including the level and nature of support that they allocate to new and growing local businesses.  Finally, while the EU replacement funding – Shared Prosperity Fund – is technically operating from April 2022, the Investment Plan that must be developed to identify priority interventions is not likely to be completed until October 2022, with resources only being released after that point.  While there have been positive engagements with the team at the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) regarding the prospect of accessing resources through the Shared Prosperity Fund, there is no guarantee that the level of resources required to support delivery will materialise.


3.3       The implications for councils at this point is that they are being forced to explore a number of scenarios to ensure  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.


Improving Employability Outcomes: Focus on Young People at Risk pdf icon PDF 270 KB


            The Director of Economic Development provided the Committee with an update on development work which had been undertaken on the Bridges to Progression initiative which was funded through the Belfast Labour Market Partnership.


            He reported that the Labour Market Partnership had been focused on four main strategic themes and, under the theme ‘No-one Left Behind’, officers had been exploring the potential for interventions to support the transition of young people into employment, education or training and had co-designed a bridging intervention which aimed to increase the positive outcomes for young people.


            He outlined the Skills for Life and Work training programme and the key findings from engagement with providers and young people.


            He stated that, having explored a range of potential approaches, a £90K allocation from the Labour Market Partnership budget had been proposed, to be ringfenced for Belfast based Skills for Life and Work providers, and that officers would work with providers to identify those young people at highest risk of falling out of provision and would use the resources to support and encourage retention.


            He listed the Skills for Life and Work providers and outlined the range of activities provided, which officers would manage in partnership with the providers through an agreed application process on behalf of those young people identified.


            He reported that, subject to Council endorsement, officers would undertake assessment of the applications for funding and that a report would be presented to a future meeting of the Committee which would outline the outcomes and learnings from the approach.


            The Committee agreed to defer consideration of the proposal to managing the funding distribution, until its meeting in September, in order that greater detail would be provided on the allocation of resources and service provision.



Strategic and Operational Issues


City Centre All Party Area Working Group pdf icon PDF 280 KB

Additional documents:


            The Director of City Regeneration and Development provided the Committee with an update on the proposals for a City Centre All Party Working Group and emerging wider city centre governance structures.


            She reported that details of the City Centre All Party Working Group, which would include the draft Terms of Reference, would be presented to the Party Leaders’ Consultative Forum at its meeting in August and would subsequently be presented to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee for approval.


            She outlined the proposed role of the City Centre All Party Working Group and provided an overview of the proposed Terms of Reference.


            She informed the Committee that, in response to the emerging city centre issues and ongoing related work strands, a review had been undertaken of the existing mechanisms for engagement and improved governance in order to bring together the various city centre related facets and ensure synergy whilst avoiding duplication and silo approaches.  She referred the Committee to the draft governance proposals which had been appended to the report and included:


·        Future City Centre Leadership Group;

·        Strategic Leadership Group – Complex Lives;

·        Multi Agency Operational (tasking) Group – Clean, Green, Inclusive and Safe;

·        Cleanliness Task Force; and

·        City Centre Coordination Group – Internal Officer Group.


            The Committee:


·       Noted the proposals for a City Centre All - Party Working Group, which would be considered in detail by Party Leaders at the Party Leaders Consultative Forum on 11 August and following this to Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on 19th August for approval;


·       Noted the emerging wider city centre governance proposals in the context of various independent priorities, including vulnerability, cleanliness, safety and the long-term regeneration and diversification of the city centre;


·       Agreed that officers would bring a report back to the Committee that would outline the Council’s powers of vesting; and


·       Agreed that officers would undertake to explore the establishment of a Communities of Interest Working Group.



Invest NI Review - Call for Evidence pdf icon PDF 259 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee considered 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 review of Invest NI that is currently underway, chaired by Sir Michael Lyons

·        Set out details of proposed input to the review on behalf of Belfast City Council.


2.0       Recommendations


            Members are asked to:


·        Note the ongoing review of Invest NI, including the scope and timelines

·        Note and agree the proposed response from Belfast City Council, attached as Appendix 1

·        Note the likelihood of further engagement between the Review Team and the Council as the review progresses and in advance of its October 2022 publication.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       Key Issues


            The Independent Review of Invest NI was announced by the Minister for the Economy, Gordon Lyons, on 26th January 2022.  The objective of the Independent Review is ‘To provide an independent assessment of Invest NI’s efficiency and effectiveness and, looking forward, its capacity to strategically align with and operationally deliver the 10X Economic Vision’. 


3.2       The Review Panel is chaired by Sir Michael Lyons. He is joined by Dame Rotha Johnston and Maureen O’Reilly, an independent economist.  Members will recall that Sir Michael Lyons previously chaired the Innovation and Inclusive Growth Commission which produced its ‘Reset for Growth’ report in June 2021.  He will re-engage with Commission members for a year one review session in September 2022. 


3.3       Sir Michael has significant experience across the public sector, including local government. In 2007, he undertook an extensive inquiry into the functions and funding of local government: ‘Place-shaping: a shared ambition for the future of local government’.  He is currently Chair of the English Cities Fund. 


3.4       The Panel has been taking views from a range of key stakeholders since its establishment, meeting with more than 280 stakeholders through 70 engagement sessions.  They have also undertaken a public consultation on the review.  The current timetable for completion of the report is October 2022.


3.5       As part of their engagement work, the Panel met with Party Group Leaders in early July 2022.  They had an extensive discussion on a number of key areas, principally focusing on the efficiency and effectiveness of Invest NI in its role as the main economic development agency in NI and also looking at whether Invest NI was appropriately and adequately resourced and structured to support the delivery of the 10X strategy.  


3.6       In addition to the engagement with members, the Review Panel has confirmed that it would be keen to receive further written responses from key partners.  Given the importance of the working relationship with Invest NI and the need to ensure that the organisation is structured in a way that can support the future economic growth of the city, it is proposed that the response set out in Appendix 1 is submitted to the Review Panel, reflecting the Council’s views on key areas of opportunity and challenge.  It covers a number of key points, namely:


·        Need to consider current  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Issues raised in advance by a Member


Request for Presentation: Community Finance Ireland - Councillor Heading


Councillor Heading outlined his proposal for the Committee to receive a presentation from Community Investment Finance Ireland Group in order to learn about its work and functions


The Committee agreed to receive a presentation from Community Investment Finance Ireland.