Agenda and minutes

Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall

Contact: Eilish McGoldrick, Democratic Services Officer 

No. Item




            An apology for the inability to attend was reported on behalf of the High Sherriff, Councillor Hussey.





            The minutes of the meetings of the Committee of 26th October and 9th November 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 December, subject to the following amendments (9th November):


·        Under the heading Cultural Mapping for Culture, Arts and Heritage, the Council had agreed that the minute be referred back to Committee for further consideration as a Member had been liaising with the Director of Economic Development regarding the listing of an additional ten venues which he wished to ensure had been included prior to the minute being ratified; and


·        Under the heading Christmas Update, the Council had agreed that a report would be submitted to a future meeting which would detail the health and safety advice that had been given and also give consideration to the running of a Tree Lighting event in future years.



Declarations of Interest


            In relation to item 2.a) Presentations - Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast, Councillor Whyte declared an interest in that he was employed by Queen’s University, and Councillor Spratt declared an interest in that his wife worked for Ulster University.




Correspondence Received - Queen's University Belfast pdf icon PDF 240 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee noted the correspondence which had been received from Queen’s University Belfast in response to the Council’s letter in relation to its Widening Participation Programme, cost-of-living assistance, student intake and the impact potential funding cuts might have on future admissions.  





Ulster University and Queen's University pdf icon PDF 157 KB


            The Chairperson introduced Ms. C. Young, Director of Student Plus, and Mr. E. Deeny, Public Affairs Manager, representing Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), and Ms. A. Castry, Director of Campus Life, and Mr. D. Morrow, Director of Community Engagement, representing Ulster University (UU), to the Committee and they were admitted to the meeting.


            The Director of City Development and Regeneration highlighted that Belfast currently had a student population of 45,000 full time students, with the majority of students studying at Queens and Ulster University and the remainder at Stranmillis, St Mary’s and Belfast Metropolitan College.


            She advised that the relocation of Ulster University from the Jordanstown Campus to the new Belfast City Centre Campus represented a major regeneration opportunity for the city centre, particularly in the northern side, with and the £364m campus provided 75,000m2 of high-quality learning space for over 15,000 students per annum with a GVA impact of £160m and an overall benefit to the NI economy of £1.4billion (OCED). She reported that Council officers had continued to work with the Ulster University along with various stakeholders to support the successful opening and integration of the new Belfast City Centre Ulster University Campus, and to maximise the longer-term inclusive regeneration impacts and opportunities of this major capital investment programme, with much of this work being co-ordinated through the Community Campus Regeneration Forum (CCRF)


            Mr Morrow provided an overview of the importance of students and student accommodation in Belfast and highlighted that students andgraduates werean integralpart in promoting City Centre Living. He outlined how students would help achieve Belfast’s ambition:


·        Housing led regeneration was an underpinning principle of ”Belfast - A Signature City”;

·        The city had a strong base to build on with 45,000 students and over 7,000 PBSA already;

·        Belfast was a young and vibrant city -students currently made up 14% of the population;

·        Everyone would benefit from a thriving and prosperous economy. Students want to live in the city centre and bring spend and benefit across multiple areas;

·        Students brought diversity to Belfast that was aligned to a welcoming, fair and inclusive society;

·        The number of 18-year-olds would grow by 20% in the next five years and the universities were highlighting the need to increase places (by 4,250) just to maintain current opportunities for school leavers;

·        As a city, we need to encourage investment to build appropriate housing for both students and graduates and ensure we could encourage our young residents to stay in the city longer; and

·        There was already evidence of increased footfall on Royal Avenue by 47%-some of which might be attributed to UU’s new Belfast campus.


            Ms. Castry provided context of the current student housing market and pointed out that there was an increase in competition for HMO’s particularlyfrom NIHE, Immigration Services and statutory agenciesand there were increasing accommodation issuesacross the housingsector which required a holistic view and should include the consideration of internationalstudent families  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


National Lottery Heritage Fund pdf icon PDF 170 KB


            The Chairperson welcomes Ms. S. Byrne, Head of Investment, and Ms. M. Henry, Head of Engagement representing the National Lottery Heritage Fund to the meeting.


            Ms. Byrne stated that the Heritage Fund was one of the 12 National Lottery Good Causes and received 5p in funding, out of every £1 spent on the national lottery. She advised that they funded projects with clear start and end timelines that were clearly related to UK Heritage and the projects must encompass a mix of capital and activities or activity only, such as:


·        Museums and collections;

·        Community heritage;

·        Landscapes and nature;

·        Historic buildings and monuments;

·        Industrial, maritime and transport; and

·        Cultures and memories.


            Ms. Byrne advised that they funded public and not-for-profit organisations, as well as private owners of heritage assets in cases of clear public benefit under £100k.


            She provided an overview of the refreshed strategy by conserving, preserving and restoring heritage, including: Heritage at Risk; Inclusion of under-represented groups; Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability; Resilience; Place and Partnerships. She highlighted the various funding programmes and investment which had been made since 1994 across Northern Ireland.


            Ms. Byrne described case studies of the Heritage Fund’s work across Belfast, which included:  Belfast City Cemetery, Tropical Ravine, Templemore Baths, Ulster Museum National Museums NI, Collecting the Troubles and Beyond - National Museums NI, Belfast Hills Landscape Partnership, HMS Caroline - National Museum Royal Navy, Titanic Hotel, Belfast, Principles for Remembering - Reimagining Belfast City Council and Belfast Stories.


            Ms. Henry highlighted the importance of joined up thinking and working strategically to enhance the city and informed the Committee of the framework for partnership working. She pointed out that heritage delivered:


·        Regeneration of City Centre;

·        Climate benefits of adaptive reuse of heritage assets;

·        Community wealth building;

·        Tourism at City and Neighbourhood levels;

·        Civic Pride;

·        Bringing communities together;

·        Sense of Place and identity;

·        Jobs and skills creation; and

·        Business growth.


            During discussion, the representatives answered a range of questions on city centre hidden heritage and the lack of interest from the private sector to restore heritage.


            After discussion, the Chairperson thanked the representatives for their attendance and they retired from the meeting.


            The Committee noted the information which had been provided.



Restricted Items


            The information contained in the report associated with the following four 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 four 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.



Council's Powers on Vesting


The Divisional Solicitor outlined the powers of vesting available to the Council and summarised the vesting process.




Moved by Councillor O’Hara,

Seconded by Councillor Whyte,


            Resolved - That the Council draft a Vesting Policy.


After discussion, the Committee:


·        Noted the contents of the report;

·        Noted that Legal Services was currently engaging with various Departments to ascertain the appropriate ‘Ministry’ to make a Vesting Order on behalf of the Council when seeking to utilise its powers in relation to economic development; and

·        Agreed that Council officers draft a Vesting Policy for consideration.



Belfast Zoo - Quarter 2 Performance Update


            The Committee was provided with an update on the performance of the Zoo during Quarter 2 (July to September) of the 2022-23 financial year which included information on the following areas:


·        Visitor Services

·        Education Services

·        Animal Collection

·        Marketing and Events, and

·        Financial performance.


The Committee noted the Zoo performance update report for the period July to September 2022.



Future City Centre Programme: Vacant to Vibrant


            The Director of City Regeneration and Development provided an update on the progress on the pilot capital grant scheme, ‘Vacant to Vibrant’ which included the outcome of recent application submissions.


The Committee:


·        Noted the update in relation to the city centre Vacant to Vibrant pilot capital grant scheme; and

·        Agreed to the recommended grant awards as outlined within Section 3.19 and 3.20 of the report.



Quarter 2 Finance Update


            The Committee noted the report and the associated financial reporting pack which outlined the Quarter 2 financial position for the Committee including a forecast of the year end outturn.



Matters referred back from Council/Motions


            The Committee considered further the minute of the meeting of 9th November which had been referred back to the Committee by the Council at its meeting on 1st December. An extract of the minute is set out hereunder:





Wednesday, 9th November, 2022





Cultural Mapping for Culture, Arts and Heritage pdf icon PDF 136 KB

To consider further the minute of the meeting of 9th November which was referred back to the Committee by the Council on 1st December (minute attached).


            The Committee was reminded that, as a key action of Belfast’s ten-year cultural strategy, A City Imagining, the Culture Unit, in partnership and the Department for Communities, had jointly commissioned a report on Belfast’s cultural infrastructure.  The aim of this report was to analyse what physical space was available for residents to experience culture, and to examine current physical resource allocation for the cultural sector across the city. 


            The Director of Economic Development advised that the overall cultural mapping project was key to the delivery of the city’s cultural strategy and the city’s community plan (the Belfast Agenda). He described the significance of the research, and the requirement for a whole city approach in terms of a critical analysis of physical resources for cultural activity, identifying gaps and models of good practice – starting with a study of the physical resources for culture. He pointed out that the Culture Team were committed to delivering a cultural mapping of the city within A City Imagining implementation plan 2020-2023. 


            He explained that the Cultural Mapping project addressed the existing and future needs of Belfast’s cultural and creative industries sector by ensuring that policy was informed by up to date and accurate data whilst also providing a valuable resource for the public to increase engagement and participation.   Furthermore, this data had the potential to be utilised by residents, visitors, artists, cultural and creative organisations, funders and planners.  This Cultural Mapping Report was Phase One of a major cultural mapping project which included the following phases:


·        Phase One - A review and analysis of Belfast’s hard cultural infrastructure;

·        Phase Two – Study and Scoping of the soft infrastructure, identifying cultural resources, networks links and patterns of cultural practice. Research with partners and community networks, wide-reaching public engagement and cluster engagement, crowdsourcing ideas; and

·        Phase Three – An interactive digital cultural map product that would allow residents to browse the city’s cultural offerings. This would be similar in concept to Dublin’s ‘culture near you’ project.


            The Cultural Mapping report (copy available here ) provided strategic recommendations for improving Belfast’s creative provisions in the short and long term and could be seen as a tool that could inform broader plans for the city alongside other areas, including, but not limited to, regeneration, heritage, and economic development.


            He outlined the recommendations within the Cultural Mapping Report as follows:


·        A key recommendation in this phase one report focused on addressing the shortage of affordable artist studio space in Belfast.  Members would be aware that, at a meeting of City Growth and Regeneration Committee in February 2022, it had been agreed to open a new funding scheme for artist led organisations to provide financial and development support for this sector.  As part of this support, members also agreed a strategic review of artist studios and maker-spaces in Belfast which would identify examples of best practice and potential solutions to this issue.  This research would be conducted over the coming months, with a number of long-term recommendations presented to Committee  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


Request 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.



Department for Infrastructure - York Street Interchange Review Update pdf icon PDF 326 KB


            It was reported that a request had been received from the Department for Infrastructure to present the findings of the York Street Interchange Place-Making Review at a future meeting.


The Committee noted the contents of the report and agreed to receive an in-person presentation from the Department for Infrastructure on the findings of the York Street Interchange Place-Making Review at a future meeting. The Committee requested that the presentation document be received in advance of the meeting and noted that questions or issues Members wished to raise would be compiled and sent to DfI in advance of its deputation. 


            The Committee also noted that a reminder would be sent to DfI Roads regarding the outstanding information which had been requested at its meeting in November.



Growing Business & the Economy


Employability and Skills Update pdf icon PDF 383 KB


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report


1.1       The purpose of this report is to update members on a range of activity undertaken so far in 2022/23 to support skills development, economic engagement and job outcomes for key target groups. 


1.2       The work programme supports the inclusive growth ambitions of the Council by targeting interventions on key cohorts, including:


·        Residents out of work and experiencing barriers to employment/self-employment, including those who are long-term unemployed and economically inactive

·        Residents with low skills levels

·        Young people who do not have a baseline Level 2 equivalent qualification and/or at risk of dropping out of (or not in) education, employment or training

·        In work, low earning residents

·        Those living in areas of highest multiple deprivation.


2.0       Recommendations


            The Committee is asked to:


·        Note the work undertaken in the financial year to date and the positive employability and jobs outcomes associated with the work

·        Approve the allocation of £40,000 from the existing E&S Revenue budget to continue to work in partnership with RSA Cities of Learning to progress Digital Badging in the city.


3.0       Main report


3.1       Employment Academies


            Members will be aware that Employment Academies are one of the key instruments that the Council’s Employability and Skills team utilises to help people into work.  While the content of Employment Academies varies from programme to programme, there are a number of consistent components, namely:


·        Employer-led skills training related to the specific job role

·        In-situ work sampling/work placements

·        Employability support particularly focused on the final employment interview (all candidates are guaranteed a job interview).


3.2       Given the volatility in the labour market – and the limited financial resources available to undertake the work – our decisions around the priority work plan have been driven by a number of factors including:


·        Opportunity presented by a number of growth sectors (particularly tech and fibre) to support participants into roles with higher earning potential.  In recognition of the additional skills support work required, these interventions tend to have a higher per capita cost for participants but offer a positive return on investment in terms of salary levels for those successful in finding work following engagement in the programme

·        Ongoing need to work with employers to convince them of the value of alternative approaches to finding talent other than pre-existing qualifications and/or experience.  This is particularly the case for our work in new sectors – specifically those that have tended to think ‘degree first’ and have not considered alternative routes

·        Employers with entry level jobs – particularly in sectors such as hospitality – continue to experience significant challenges in finding workers and officers are working with them to consider issues such as terms and conditions and payment of the real living wage in order to attract and retain talent

·        Opportunities to support existing employees through upskilling interventions – supporting individuals to improve salary levels by progressing to a better job and thereby embedding a skills-escalator by creating additional entry-level roles.


3.3       In this year, we have  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Positioning Belfast to Compete


Belfast Bikes Quarter 2 Update pdf icon PDF 532 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       To update Members on the performance of the Just Eat Belfast Bikes scheme in the second quarter (1 July to 30 September 2022) of year 7 of operation.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is requested to:


·        note the update of the Just Eat Belfast Bikes performance for Year 7 Q2 (June to September 2022);

·        note the update to the notice of motion regarding free access for young people;

·        note the progress with regard to phase one and phase two expansion.


3.0       Main report


3.1       Background


            The Belfast Bikes scheme was launched in 2015 as part Belfast City Council’s physical investment programme. The Department for Regional Development provided initial capital funding for the scheme as part of their Active Travel Demonstration Projects budget. The scheme launched with a network of 30 docking stations and 300 bikes. The scheme has been operated by NSL continually since inception using bikes and supporting infrastructure from ‘Nextbike by TIER’.  The scheme currently operates with 573 bikes (including those in reserve for new stands) and 50 docking stations.



            Expansion of the Scheme


3.2       At CG&R on 12 May 2021 it was agreed that an additional four Belfast Bikes docking stations would be deployed using DFI Active Travel funding. Installation began in Q1 and current status is as follows:


-       Lisnasharragh Leisure Centre was installed on 7 July 2022 and is operational;

-       Olympia Leisure Centre was installed on 25 October 2022 and is operational;

-       Kennedy Centre installation has been delayed due to supply chain issues, and is expected to be operational by mid-December;

-       Waterworks installation has been delayed due to supply chain issues, and is expected to be operational by mid-December.


            Council officers are currently liaising with the operator and supplier to improve the supply chain issues for future installations.


3.3       At CG&R on 9 June 2021 it was agreed to proceed with an additional 15 docking stations. An investment of approximately £525,000 is required, based on cost estimates from previous network expansions. At SP&R on 18 June 2021 members agreed for £500,000 to be invested in the expansion proposal.


3.3       A procurement exercise is ongoing for the design and installation of eight stations in Phase 1 (to be installed 2022/23):


-       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.


            Seven stations will follow in Phase 2 in the following year (2023/24).


3.5       As previously agreed by the committee, discussion and agreement through Area Working Groups is required to determine exact locations and consider those against the Site Expansion Matrix. These site options and discussions with Area Working Groups commenced in November.



            Operational Performance




3.6       Following challenges sourcing replacement bike parts earlier in the year, supplies and bike availability significantly improved during Q2. Average daily bikes on the street during Q2 was 340.


3.7       An  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.


Strategic & Operational Issues


Committee Plan - 6-Month Update pdf icon PDF 245 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee was reminded that the 2022-23 Committee Plan had been developed in the context of the Council’s Corporate Plan and the emerging, refreshed Belfast Agenda and contained the commitments within the Corporate Delivery Plan, which were under the remit of the Committee, plus additional deliverables that had been agreed by the Committee. It outlined the main priorities and programmes of work that the Committee was overseeing to maximise the Council’s contribution to the Belfast Agenda and deliver a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery.


            It was reported that Appendix 1 (copy available here) outlined progress with the main commitments in the Committee Plan for the six month period, April-September 2022 and that many of the commitments would continue to be delivered over the course of the year and the Committee would be kept informed of its progress.


The Committee noted the contents of the mid-year report and progress against the agreed actions within the 2022-23 City Growth and Regeneration Committee Plan.



NI Housing Executive - Consultation on draft Corporate Plan 22/23 - 24/25 pdf icon PDF 677 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the undernoted report and associated appendices:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to update Members on the draft consultation response to NIHE’s Corporate Plan 2022/23 – 2024/25 which is due to be submitted to NIHE by 14th December 2022.  A draft response will be submitted on behalf of Belfast City Council subject to approval by this committee and further subject to Council ratification in January 2023.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


·        Consider and approve the Council’s draft consultation response submission to the NIHE’s consultation on their draft Corporate Plan 2022/23 – 2024/25 enclosed with this report at Appendix 2. 

·        Consider and agree that the response, subject to any amendments by Committee, will be submitted by the closing date of 14th December 2022 on the basis that it remains subject to ratification by Full Council in January 2023.

·        Note the draft response has been formed on the basis of previously agreed Council positions on housing which were submitted in response to the Department for Communities consultation on the Housing Supply Strategy 2022-2027 and consultation on Intermediate Rent.


3.0       Main report


3.1       Background


            Members will know that the NIHE is the Strategic Housing Authority for NI and a public landlord at scale.  With an annual budget of more than £1.2bn, NIHE provides a range of public services across NI, with a footprint extending to more than 220,000 homes and services impacting on one in every three people.  NIHE is also a Community Planning partner, chairing the Housing-Led Regeneration sub-group (which is aligned to the ‘Our Place’ theme currently being developed as part of the on-going refresh of the Belfast Agenda) which sits under the City Development Board, reporting to the Community Planning Partnership.  Through this group, as part of the process of refreshing the Belfast Agenda,  NIHE are leading on the collaborative development of an action plan for housing-led regeneration which will help us deliver the agreed Belfast Agenda target to grow the city’s population by 66,000 by 2035, with the Local Development Plan (LDP) providing the planning framework to allow us to build the 31,600 homes which are required to meet that target.


            Although housing has been identified as a priority in its own right in the Belfast Agenda, the wider impact of good quality housing on the health and wellbeing of residents of Belfast and other priority outcomes of the community plan should not be underestimated.  It is within this broad, cross-cutting context that Council’s draft consultation response has been prepared.


            Council had previously provided a response to both the Department for Communities Housing Supply Strategy 2022-2027 consultation regarding Proposals for Intermediate Rent.


            Emerging draft NIHE Corporate Plan


            During the summer and autumn of 2021, NIHE engaged with customers and stakeholders to commence the process of developing their new three year Corporate Plan. These engagement exercises enabled them  to identify a number of strategic themes and key  priorities for the next  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.


Issues Raised in Advance by Members


GP services in Belfast (Cllr Heading to Raise) pdf icon PDF 5 KB


Councillor Heading outlined his request to invite the Strategic Planning and Performance Group to attend a future meeting of the Committee to present on how they plan to maintain GP services in Belfast, in particular details of future provision based on the Belfast Agenda population growth ambitions, especially in the City Centre where there are limited GP services.


The Committee agreed to the request and noted that the organisation would be invited to attend the Special Meeting in February.