Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, City Hall, Belfast

Contact: Eilish McGoldrick, Democratic Services Officer 

No. Item




            No apologies were reported.





            The minutes of the meeting of the Committee of 28th September 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 October.



Declarations of Interest


            In relation to item 5.a) Improving Employability Outcomes: focus on young people at risk, Councillor Duffy declared an interest, in that he was a co-ordinator for the GCSE Support Programme for the West Belfast Partnership Board.


            Councillor Whyte declared an interest regarding item 3.a) Request to present - Artemis Technologies, as he worked for Queen’s University and left the meeting whilst this item was under discussion. 



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 3 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.



Financial Reporting - Quarter 1 2022/2023


The Committee considered the Quarter 1 financial position and a forecast of the year end outturn, which included a summary of the financial indicators and an executive summary.


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



Belfast Zoo - Q1 Performance Update Report


            The Committee was provided with an update on the Zoo performance during Q1 (April to June) of the 2022-23 financial year, together with an overview of the following areas:

·        Visitor Services;

·        Education Services;

·        Animal Collection;

·        Marketing & Events; and

·        Financial performance.


            The Zoo Manager highlighted that the zoo had won the following awards during Quarter one:


·        Belfast Telegraph Business Awards

-        Highly Commended for Best Use of Digital or Social Media for Off-Peak Promotions.

·        British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) Awards

-        Gold for Diversity and Inclusivity for Accessibility Improvement Plan;

-        Silver for PR, Marketing and Digital Events for Off-Peak Promotions; and

-        Bronze for Sustainability for Christmas ‘treecycle’ campaign.


            During discussion, one Member highlighted that a wider range of low value gifts to purchase in the Zoo gift shop would be beneficial.


            After discussion, the Committee noted the Zoo performance update report for the period April to June 2022 and the Chairperson agreed to write a letter of congratulations to the staff on their recent awards on behalf of the Committee.



Housing Led Regeneration Programme Update


            The minute for this item has been restricted due to commercial sensitivity. The restriction will be lifted in due course.



Request to Present


Artemis Technologies pdf icon PDF 256 KB


            It was reported that a request had been received from Artemis Technologies to present an update to a future Committee on the Strength in Places-funded Belfast Maritime Consortium programme and development of Artemis eFoiler??.


            The Committee noted the progress update and agreed to receive a presentation from Artemis Technologies on the Artemis eFoiler?? project at its Special Meeting in October.


            The Committee also agreed that representatives of Queen’s University be invited to attend, in conjunction with this presentation, to discuss the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on both its staff and students, the possible reduction in student numbers, and to provide an update on the work of the City Deal. 



Business Improvement Districts pdf icon PDF 260 KB


            The Committee agreed to receive an annual presentation from representatives of the three Business Improvement Districts at future meetings of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee. 



Regenerating Places & Improving Infrastructure


Blue and Green Infrastructure Funding pdf icon PDF 310 KB


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to update Members on elements of the Council’s Connectivity Programme, Grey to Green Programme and the Great Victoria St tactical regeneration scheme and the proposed funding proposals for these schemes via the DfI Green & Blue Infrastructure Fund and DfC Revitalisation Scheme.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


·        Note receipt of the Letter of Intent from DfI to provide in year capital funding for the delivery of projects associated with Council priorities aligned with the Belfast Agenda and A Bolder Vision in terms of connectivity, greenways, active travel and place-making.

·        Subject to receipt of funding approve the delivery of projects outlined within this report, including any 3rd party funding agreements, consultancy and procurement as appropriate. Noting that funding and the Letter of Offer will be subject to SP&R Committee approval, via the Capital Programme process in conjunction with Physical Programmes or in conjunction with 3rd party delivery partners as outlined within this report with regular updates to be brought back to this Committee.

·        Note the opportunity for DfC funding to deliver a Revitalisation Programme in the Gt Victoria Street / Southwest Quarter area, and subject to award of funding approve the delivery of the revitalisation programme, noting that this will be subject to SP&R Committee approval via the Capital Programme process in conjunction with Physical Programmes.

·        Note and agree the PHA funding to deliver branding on the Cathedral Gardens Active Travel Hub.

·        Note the potential of return of funding of the Spokesafe proposal approved under the 21/22 B&G Infrastructure Fund and approve the inclusion of this funding allocation with this phase of secure parking delivery.


3.0       Main report


3.1       In June 2022, DfI sought proposals from Council for greenway and active travel projects that could potentially receive capital grant funding this financial year under the DfI Blue and Green Infrastructure Fund 2022/23 and Active Travel Projects. Given the tight timeframe for delivery, in September, the Council submitted proposals with a focus on enhancements to live projects that have the best chance for delivery within this financial year. This fund aligns with Council’s commitments as articulated in the Corporate Plan, the CG&R Committee Plan and the Community Planning Partnership City Development Board priorities to bring forward a city-wide connectivity programme, of which A Bolder Vision forms a key part. The proposals brought forward within this paper also presents an opportunity to bring forward projects / programmes previously agreed by this Committee, including ‘Grey to Green’ and ‘Great Victoria St/Shaftsbury Sq’ in April 2022, as well as Active Travel Enabler projects as previously agreed and delivered through previous Blue and Green Infrastructure Funding streams. 


3.2       DfI have provided to the Council a Letter of Intent under the Blue and Green Infrastructure Fund to provide 100% of in-year capital funding for Active Travel Enablers, Grey to Green and South-West Quarter/Great Victoria Street projects. As an existing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


City Centre Revitalisation and Connectivity pdf icon PDF 308 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee considered the undernoted report and associated appendix:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to update Members on current infrastructure projects within the city centre, the pending reopening of Primark - Bank Buildings, its impact on the city centre and specifically how it impacts the Castle Street area, and to provide an update in relation to interim road measures to the Fredrick St Junction adjacent to Ulster University, and to further advise on proposals for a Waterfront Task Group.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Members of the Committee are asked to:


·        Note the DfI plans relating to the opening of the Ulster University City Centre Campus;

·        Agree the comments provided by Officers to the DfI Consultation to the York St Controlled zone and provide any additional comments as required to this Committee Meeting

·        Note the interim measures to the Fredrick St Junction planned to commence in October 2022 and note that DfI will be presenting to the Committee in November 2022 where Members will have an opportunity to raise queries directly with DfI Officials

·        Note the pending Consultation on Amendments to the Footway (Prohibition of Waiting) Order and to provide initial comments to this Committee meeting

·        Note that the Bank Buildings refurbishment is almost complete, and that Primark have advised they plan to open the store ahead of schedule in November 2022.

·        Note the DfI proposals not to reopen the area encapsulated by the Bank Buildings hoarding to traffic in advance of the finalisation of the Bolder Vision Strategy

·        Note the DfI request for an environmental improvement scheme in the area and the proposed actions put forward by Officers

·        Agree that officers apply for DfI/DfC funding to deliver the interventions outlined within this paper, and to procure and deliver the interventions in conjunction with local businesses and stakeholders with regular updates to be brought back to this Committee (and SP&R as appropriate).

·        Note the emerging Waterfront Task Group and agree to contribute funding to the development of a framework for a fully connected waterfront - building on existing and proposed plans and schemes and aligned to local and central government objectives including A Bolder Vision, private sector development and community group proposals.


3.0       Background


3.1       The Ulster University Campus opened to its full cohort of staff and students in September 2022. As a significant regeneration project and catalyst for change within the City Centre Members of this Committee have received regular updates on the progress of the campus, the wider work of the Community Campus Regeneration Forum and have been invited to attend a session with the University of Ulster on the 11th of October 2022. The visit to the Campus will include a tour of the campus and a discussion on how best to maximise the impact of the new Campus for the city and its neighbouring communities to ensure its successful integration within the city.


3.2       This Committee has also raised several items with the DfI Minister  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Growing Business & the Economy


Improving Employability Outcomes: Focus on young people at risk pdf icon PDF 297 KB

Additional documents:


            The Director of Economic Development provided an update on the development work in improving the employability outcomes of young people at risk and the review of delivery which was currently underway.


            He provided an overview of the proposed new intervention – “Bridges to Progression” – intended to be developed through the Belfast Labour Market Partnership.


            He advised that the Council’s employability and skills support in this area had focused on developing a continuum of support and testing potential solutions for those young people, who were not in education, employment or training, and who would not generally participate in existing provision. These interventions included:


·        GCSE Support Programme - In total, 517 young people across the city had benefitted from access to support to help with their GCSE English and GCSE Maths over the last year. This support had taken the form of both schools-based and community-based classes, revision and exam preparation;

·        Youth Support Programme – supported 170 young people (14-24 years old) who were disengaged and aimed to create a progression pathway in Belfast for young people at risk, thereby reducing the number that were disengaging at an early age. Scheduled to run until September 2023, the Council was likely to engage a further 160 young people;

·        Summer Work Experience Programme - Piloted in summer 2022, this intervention was aligned with the Youth Support Programme and targeted young people aged 14-16 years at highest risk or who had already disengaged from the formal education system. The programme offered six weeks paid work experience at £40 per week (equivalent to EMA) and was designed to expose participants to a range of employment opportunities and pathways into various sectors.


            The Director of Economic Development advised that work was currently underway to evaluate and review all of the activity within this space. When this was completed, the Committee would be asked to consider recommendations, which would focus on a continuum of supports at critical stages for young people and/or where there was no existing provision or barriers to entry and engagement.


            The Committee was reminded that the Labour Market Partnerships (LMPs) represented a cross-governmental approach to co-designing a sustainable future strategic employment offer. The Belfast LMP was focused on four main strategic and cross-cutting themes: Quickly Back to Work; Increasing opportunities; No-one left Behind; and Catching-up.


            Under the theme No-one Left Behind, the Belfast LMPs had agreed that the action plan included a proposed intervention to ‘turn the curve’ on the poor outcomes for young people on Training for Success/Skills for Life and Work programme (TfS/SfL&W) programmes in Belfast which The Department for Education had reported in the illustration below:



            The research indicated that less than 1 in 30 of the young people engaging on those interventions were entering a positive destination (employment/further training) at the end of the programme. In order to understand the reasons behind this performance, officers had been engaging with providers across the city and had co-designed a bridging intervention that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.


Supporting Business Start Up and Growth in Belfast - Update pdf icon PDF 441 KB


The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to provide members with a progress update on activity in 2022/2023 to support the development of new and existing businesses across the city through the Enterprise and Business Growth team.  The report sets out key priority areas of work for the remainder of the 2022/23 financial year. 


1.2       The report also provides an update to members setting out a proposed interim approach to delivering business start up activity, 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 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 and Growth

-       Note and endorse the proposal to invest in the Way to Scale programme up to a maximum of £43,000

-       Note and agree attendance of party group leaders, Chief Executive and Director of Economic Development and senior officers to attend the best practice visit for sustainability and circular economy in Dublin on the 4 November.


3.0       Main report


3.1       Members will be aware that within the 2022/23 period the Enterprise and Business Growth team have been working to develop and deliver a range of activity to support the growth and development of new and existing businesses across the city, aligned with the Growing the Economy pillar of the Belfast Agenda and Inclusive Growth Strategy.  It also aims to align and add value to work underway through the Belfast Region City Deal, Innovation City Belfast and the Innovation and Inclusive Growth Commission.  This range of activity was approved at the meeting of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee on the 6 April 2022. 


3.2       The 2022/23 financial year sees the conclusion of some of our most significant business support interventions funded through the European Regional Development Fund and Invest Northern Ireland. There is also a considerable programme of work underway to identify future resources to address future funding gaps to support the delivery of a new, more ambitious programme of start-up and growth support which seeks to revamp the current offer and increase the number, survival and growth rates of new businesses across the city.  In addition to the developmental work required to achieve this we continue to deliver a range of supports for new and existing businesses across the city. Over the last six months, some of our key achievements have included:


3.3       Enterprise and Start a Business - We have worked with 514 individuals to help them test and develop new business ideas through a range of events and workshops across the city.  This included events targeted at individuals who are currently economically inactive, and those from a range of underrepresented groups which aimed to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.


Positioning Belfast to Compete


Co-Design Framework for Culture, Arts and Heritage pdf icon PDF 434 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee deferred consideration of the report to enable a wider range of cultural organisation to be consulted on the development of the co-design framework.



Performance Update on Belfast Bikes Scheme pdf icon PDF 527 KB

Additional documents:


            The Director of Economic Development provided an update on the performance of the Just Eat Belfast Bikes scheme in the first quarter (1 April to 30 June 2022) of year 7 of operation, together with an update on the installation of covered cycle stands in the city Phase 1 funded by COVID Revitalisation Fund and Phase 2 by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) Green and Blue Infrastructure Fund.


            The Committee was reminded that the Belfast Bikes scheme was launched in 2015 as part Belfast City Council’s physical investment programme. The Department for Regional Development had provided initial capital funding for the scheme as part of its Active Travel Demonstration Projects budget. The scheme was launched with a network of 30 docking stations and 300 bikes. The scheme had been operated by NSL continually since inception using bikes and supporting infrastructure from Nextbike Gmbh. The scheme currently operated with over 430 bikes and 49 docking stations.


            Regarding the expansion of the Scheme, the Director of Economic Development highlighted that, in May 2021, the Committee had agreed that an additional four Belfast Bikes docking stations would be deployed using DfI Active Travel funding. He confirmed installation had began in Quarter 1 and consisted of the following:


·        Docking station at Lisnasharragh Leisure Centre was installed on 7 July 2022 and was operational;

·        Olympia Leisure Centre – works had commenced with an expected completion date of early September 2022;

·        Kennedy Centre – works scheduled to commence in September 2022;

·        Waterworks – the illegal van and structure that were located on the site had been removed and work would be scheduled following a competition of the other two sites, with an indicative date of late September/early October 2022; and

·        An additional station at Titanic Quarter was completed in May 2022, funded by a developer contribution.


            He reminded the Committee that, at its meeting in June 2021, it had agreed to proceed with 15 docking stations outlined in the expansion proposal (Appendix 1). An investment of approximately £525,000 was required, based on cost estimates from previous network expansions. At the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee in June 2021, it had been agreed that £500,000 be invested in the expansion proposal.


            He stated that a procurement exercise had commenced for the installation of eight stations in Phase 1:


·        North: Yorkgate and Shore Road;

·        West: St Mary’s College and Shankill Road;

·        South: Lisburn Road and Malone Road;

·        East: Castlereagh Road, Upper Newtownards Road; and

·       Seven stations would follow in Phase 2 the following year.


            As previously agreed by the Committee, agreement through Area Working Groups was required to determine the exact locations and consider those against the Site Expansion Matrix as outlined in Appendix 2. These site options and discussions were scheduled to begin with relevant Area Working Groups in the coming months.


            The Director of Economic Development provided an overview of the Operational Performance, which included the availability of bikes and the impact of replacement parts. He provided an update on Membership Levels,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Strategic & Operational Issues


Notices of Motion - Quarterly Update pdf icon PDF 243 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee was provided with an update on the Motions which had been assigned to the City Growth and Regeneration Committee. It was highlighted that one Motion had been recommended for closure.


The Committee:


·        Noted the updates to the Motions under its remit, as referenced in Appendix 1; and

·        Agreed to the closure of 1 Motion, as referenced in Appendix 1 and noted in the report, under paragraph 3.5.



Community Planning / Belfast Agenda Refresh - Progress Update pdf icon PDF 609 KB


The Committee was reminded that, in April 2022, it had received an update on the emerging findings and recommendations following the Phase 1 of the ‘Belfast Agenda: Continuing the Conversation’ engagement process which would inform the refresh and focus of the Belfast Agenda (BA) for the period 2022-2026.


            It was reported that, since its launch in 2017, the Belfast Agenda had been a city leadership document, coalescing partners beyond the core legislative requirements of community planning with a focus on addressing key city challenges. The approach adopted had enhanced the relationship between the public, voluntary and community private sector to drive forward real change addressing inequalities and improve quality of live within and across the city.


            The refreshed Belfast Agenda would maintain the same level of ambition and collective leadership commitment to deliver the long-term vision and outcomes previously agreed. It would be delivery and outcome focused and would be positioned as a City Strategy which would identify the major transformational programmes and investment opportunities for the city. Community Planning Priority Actions Work continued with community planning partners and wider stakeholders to unpack and understand the scope of the agreed priority areas for focus over the next four years, Underpinning and composite delivery action plans were being co-designed and agreed with partners. A core set of guiding principles had been applied in developing the action plans to test and identify the most appropriate interventions to delivery greatest impact. These included:


·        Adding clear value: The Council could achieve significant gains by collaborating across its partnership and sectors in a way it could not through its existing single agency or thematic ‘business as usual’.

·        Impact for Belfast’s people, place, economy: The work the Council delivered together would be felt in practical ways by individuals, families, communities, residents and businesses in Belfast, delivering tangible outcomes.

·        With Belfast’s Communities: The work the Council do would fully engage Belfast’s residents, communities and businesses, building on their strengths and ensuring their voice was central to planning and delivery. The Council would work ‘with and alongside’ its communities, not ‘To or For’ them.

·        Intelligence led priorities and action: The Council would focus its collaboration on the things that data, evidence and community insights tell them matter most to Belfast and it would deliver together in ways that evidence tells them would make a real difference.

·        Resourcing: Delivery would require joint resourcing and effort, (i.e. staff time, services or investment). Should be a leadership commitment to jointly resource the initiative.


            It was reported that the draft emerging action plans remained live documents and would be subject to further discussions and refinement with Members and wider stakeholders as set out in the report.


            It was reported that Phase Two Engagement events that had been arranged for September, had now been rescheduled to take place throughout October and into November, with a greater focus, discussion and input around the strategic intent and scope of the priority areas, how success would be measured in terms of stretch goals and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.