Agenda and minutes

Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall

Contact: Eilish McGoldrick, Democratic Services Officer 

No. Item




            Apologies were reported on behalf of Councillors McAteer and McCabe.





            The minutes of the meeting of the 11th October 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 November, subject to the following additions:


·        Under the heading Major Events Update, the Council agreed that Council officers would investigate the possibility of releasing tickets for the Christmas Switch On event in the evening of 8th November, as well as in the morning, to enable working families to apply; and

·        Under the heading Correspondence from the Department for Infrastructure, the Council agreed that a letter be forwarded to the Department for Infrastructure to outline further requests.



Declarations of Interest


            Councillor Nic Bhranair declared an interest in relation to agenda item (4.b) Mid - year Update on Make Yourself at Home Tourism Plan, on the basis that her employer was delivering the City Connections programme.



Schedule of Meetings pdf icon PDF 151 KB


            The Committee approved the schedule of meetings of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee between January and December, 2024, as follows:


·        Wednesday 10th January at 5.15 pm;

·        Wednesday 31st January at 5.15 pm (Special);

·        Wednesday 7th February at 5.15 pm;

·        Wednesday 13th March at 5.15 pm;

·        Wednesday 27th March at 5.15 pm (Special);

·        Wednesday 10th April at 5.15 pm;

·        Wednesday 8th May at 5.15 pm;

·        Wednesday 29th May at 5.15 pm; (Special);

·        Wednesday 12th June at 5.15 pm;

·        Wednesday 7th August at 5.15 pm;

·        Wednesday 28th August at 5.15 pm (Special);

·        Wednesday 11th September at 5.15 pm;

·        Wednesday 9th October at 5.15 pm;

·        Wednesday 23rd October at 5.15 pm (Special);

·        Wednesday 6th November at 5.15 pm;

·        Wednesday 27th November at 5.14pm (Special); and

·        Wednesday 4th December at 5.15 pm.



Restricted Items


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



Vacant to Vibrant Scheme Update


The Director of City Regeneration and Development provided an update on the Vacant to Vibrant Programme and other complementary programmes outside the city centre, together with the recommendations from the Vacant to Vibrant assessment panel.


She also presented an overview on successful Vacant to Vibrant applicants to date.


            During discussion, including comments from Members supporting the positive benefits of the scheme, the Director explained further the grant application process and vacancy rates. She highlighted that Key Performance Indicators were being implemented as part of the Future City Centre Framework.


            After discussion, the Committee:


·        Noted the update in relation to the city centre Vacant to Vibrant Programme and other complimentary programmes outside of the city centre, including the Vibrant Business Destinations, Business and Cluster Community Grants and the information provided in the presentation which included an overview on successful Vacant to Vibrant applicants to date;

·        Noted that a report would be submitted to the Committee on the two previous regeneration schemes which had been undertaken outside of the city centre, namely, the Renewing the Routes Scheme and the Dereliction Scheme, as agreed by Council in September 2023;

·        Noted the update in relation to the Matchmaker Service aligned to the Vacant to Vibrant Programme and the updates on market activity in relation to new or relocating occupiers; and

·        Agreed to the recommended grant award as outlined within Section 3.24 of the report.



Regenerating Places & Improving Infrastructure


Future City Centre Programme: Revised Framework and Pragma Report pdf icon PDF 531 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the following report and associated appendices:


“1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to:


·        Update Members on a refreshed Future City Centre (FCC) Programme based on previous recommendations from a  refreshed Pragma Retail and Leisure Performance Strategy, ongoing stakeholder engagement and reflecting programmes, projects and activities underway across a number of inter-related areas.

·        Seek approval to the proposed objectives and measurement indicators within the revised FCC  Programme.


2.0       Recommendation


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


·        Note the contents of the report, including the important role the city centre plays for the wider city and region; the key findings of the refreshed Pragma Retail and Leisure Performance Strategy and updates on programmes of work and activity aligned to these recommendations.

·        Note the progress in relation to shaping the Future City Centre Programme (FCC) and the updated City Centre governance structures. 

·        Approve the monitoring framework within the revised FCC Programme as attached at Appendix 3 consisting of programme objectives and strategic indicators, noting that regular reports will be brought back to Committee on these measurement indicators.

·        Note that Belfast does not receive the same level of specific regeneration funding programmes that other UK cities receive for city/town centres and high streets, as referenced below, and that a detailed report on this is to be brought to the SP&R Committee in the near future.


3.0       Background & Context


3.1       Belfast and the city centre remains the economic driver for the region. The Regional Development Strategy 2035 recognises the need to enhance the distinctive role of the City Centre as the regional capital and the focus of administration, commerce, specialised services and cultural amenities. It highlights the need to support and strengthen the distinctive role of Belfast City Centre as the primary retail location in Northern Ireland.  


3.2       The Belfast Local Development Plan highlights that Belfast city centre plays a significant role in the regional economy serving a wide catchment area beyond its plan area boundary. The city centre is also a regional centre for commerce, culture, tourism, recreation, entertainment, learning and employment, contributing £47million in non-domestic district rates (which represents 27% of all Belfast City Council's rates income).  City centre jobs represent c33% of all Belfast jobs and 9.6% of all jobs in Northern Ireland.  The success of the city as a whole is critically important, although like other UK cities, the city centre is viewed as the showcase for the wider city and the gateway for the region, supported by the major transport hubs serving the region. The diversification and inclusive economic growth of the city centre is crucial to Belfast’s physical and economic development.  


3.3       BCCRIS (Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy), the adopted regeneration policy for the city centre, recognises that the city centre is one of the most important places in the Region. The city centre is a place where investment impact can be maximised, where the majority of our rates are generated (per area) and therefore  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


All Party Round Table on Connectivity, Active and Sustainable Travel pdf icon PDF 342 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee was provided with an overview of the All Party Round Table on Connectivity, Active and Sustainable Travel which had taken place on 30th August, 2023.


            It was reported that the session had enabled Members to explore the various stands of work ongoing across the organisation and with partners to ensure that the Council could effectively position itself in terms of what it could deliver, who it needed to work with and what it needed to influence to realise the wider associated benefits of connecting people to opportunities and creating a better connected and sustainable city.


            In particular, the session looked at how this work cuts across various Committees and via the Community Planning process and provided an overview (Appendix A) of the streams of work underway, which enabled Members to see all this work holistically and how it feeds into the Council’s strategic priorities and governance structures. This included the work being taken forward within the Community Planning structures via the Connectivity, Active and Sustainable Travel subgroup as part of the Belfast Agenda refresh and through the Climate and Resilience Board as well as Council led Physical Programme projects, A Bolder Vision and the strategic and large-scale infrastructure projects being led by public and private sector city partners.


            The Director of City Regeneration and Development highlighted that Connectivity, Active and Sustainable Travel were integrated levers that cut across city stakeholders, including the Council, DfI and other Government departments, Sustrans, Translink, communities, businesses and anchor institutions and spanned across a number of strategic, policy and delivery areas including:


·        The Local Development Plan and the Eastern Transport Plan (ETP);

·        Belfast Agenda and A Bolder Vision;

·        Council’s capital delivery programme;

·        Modal shift/behavioural change projects; and

·        Net Zero Roadmap for Belfast.


            A key focus of discussion had included the relationship of the ETP to other large priority schemes such as Belfast Streets Ahead, Glider Phase 2 and the key Junctions (Peter’s Hill, Frederick Street, Clifton Street), with particular focus on the need to deliver the Belfast Cycling Network across the city.


            She reminded the Committee that the Council had submitted a response to the DfI consultation on the Eastern Transport Plan as agreed by the Committee in October and encouraged Members to continue to engage in the development of this critical strategic document.


            The Director of City Regeneration and Development advised that other issues raised included the content within the Belfast Agenda’s draft Connectivity, Active and Sustainable Travel Action Plan, including active travel for school children, play streets and school streets and opportunities to share and learn from best practice, for example, through Eurocities.


            She pointed out that Members had also been advised of the work which had been undertaken by the CAST group (co-chaired by Sustrans and Translink) and the draft plan had been developed through a co-design process led by this group. Following public consultation on the draft Belfast Agenda, partners would consider potential revisions to the suite of Action Plans before final publication. It was intended  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Positioning the City to Compete


Northern Ireland Enterprise Support Service Update pdf icon PDF 460 KB


            The Committee was reminded that the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, at its meeting in February, had agreed that Belfast City Council should lead on the submission of the application to UKSPF (Shared Prosperity Fund) for the 11-council Enterprise Support Service (ESS) model.  It had also been agreed that the Council should lead on the future development and delivery of the service, subject to additional due diligence and risk management work being undertaken.


            It was reported that a further update had been presented to the City Growth and Regeneration Committee in August providing additional detail on the progress to date on the procurement process and the funding drawdown and identifying an emerging risk due to delays in issuing the funding agreement/MoU by DLUHC (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities).  In early September 2023, officers had received the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) setting out the terms and conditions of the funding offer and this was signed by the Chief Executive. 


            The Director of Economic Development advised that, having received the MoU, officers were able to proceed with the appointment of the contractors for the delivery of services to businesses, as well as the provision of support services such as marketing and communications and call handling.  Following completion of the procurement process, successful contractors included: 


        Engage and Foundation – Enterprise NI and Partners;

        Growth and Scaling – Derry City and Strabane District Council and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council – Deirdre Fitzpatrick and Associates;

        Growth and Scaling – Belfast City Council – Full Circle Management Solutions;

        Growth and Scaling – Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Mid Ulster District Council and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council – Full Circle MS;

        Growth and Scaling – Antrim and North Down Borough Council, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council and Newry Mourne and Down District Council – Full Circle MS;

        Growth and Scaling – Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council – Mallusk Enterprise Park;

        Telehandling – Like Us NE; and

        Communications and Marketing – Ardmore.


            He informed the Committee that, following mobilisation of contracts across a number of work strands, it was expected that the go live date for service delivery would take place in early November.  Given delays in issuing the MoU, officers were working with contractors to identify how the Council could maximise the delivery of the service while acknowledging that not all support services and resources were yet fully functional.


            He advised that, as part of the mobilisation period, work had been undertaken to develop a new brand for the new service. The scoping exercise consisted of detailed surveys, focus groups and stakeholder workshops which led to the creation of a new brand/logo, 4 sub brands and brand guidelines.


            He outlined the selected brand Proposition as follows:


      ‘Go Succeed NI Business Support is a service to help potential entrepreneurs, new starts and existing businesses to maximise their potential and contribute to Northern Ireland’s economy. It provides  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Mid -Year Update on Make Yourself at Home Tourism Plan pdf icon PDF 402 KB


            The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to provide Members with a mid-year update on progress against the Belfast - Make Yourself at Home Tourism Plan Year 2 Action Plan 2023/2024 Tourism and Events, including bids for large-scale events.


2.0       Recommendation


2.1       Members are asked to:


            Note the contents of this mid-year update report on Tourism and Events Year 2 Action Plan 2023/2024.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       Driving the success of our leisure and business tourism market in Belfast is the ten year Make Yourself at Home Tourism Plan which was approved by Council and launched along with the Year 1 implementation plan in March 2022.  Year Two of that implementation plan was approved by Council in April 2023 and this report will update members on what has been delivered at this mid-way point in the financial year.


3.2       The Make Yourself at Home Tourism Plan sets out a vision for the future of tourism in the city that is centred on a people-based and sustainable model of development with a focus on:


·        Increasing the coherency of the Belfast experience

·        Supporting quality authentic products

·        Developing skills

·        Strengthening the city’s position through marketing and communications


3.3       The plan sets out a shared vison for tourism in the city and is supported by 4 strategic themes:


·        Grow Belfast 

·        Experience Belfast 

·        Position Belfast 

·        Sustain Belfast


            All four of these strategic themes are underpinned by the need to support inclusive economic growth and to differentiate the Belfast offer in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. A fifth strand to the plan considers key strategic opportunities that could bolster investment in the sector to support recovery and future growth.


3.4       Strategic theme 1: Grow Belfast


            The following activity has been delivered against the theme of Grow Belfast:


3.5       Visit Belfast - Management of the Visit Belfast contract in respect of the delivery of marketing, destination management and visitor servicing - to deliver on increased visitor numbers staying longer and spending more, thereby supporting tourism jobs, economic impact and social benefits across Belfast. Monitoring the delivery of KPIs set for marketing of Belfast as leisure & business tourism destination.  We have delivered a five-year extension of the Lease Sharing Agreement with Visit Belfast and a three-year sharing agreement with Translink for the operation of a ticketing desk within the Belfast Welcome Centre.


            Visit Belfast  will update Officers in December 2023 on mid-year progress.  A synopsis of current high-level data available for the year to date is as follows:


·        Through its activities, Visit Belfast has generated circa £35 million for the local economy to date, generating an economic impact of £11 million through dealing with 477,424 enquiries and £26 million through winning 77 conferences, equating to 55,543 bed nights and 20,819 delegates.


·        Throughout 2023, Visit Belfast has delivered four campaigns, generating a minimum economic impact of £21 million, including a City Branding and Marketing campaign in the lead up to, and duration of, the global One  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Strategic and Operational Issues


City Growth and Regeneration Committee Plan 2023/24 (6-Month Update) pdf icon PDF 250 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee was reminded that the 2023-24 Committee Plan was developed in the context of the Council’s Corporate Plan and the refreshed Belfast Agenda and contained the commitments within the Corporate Delivery Plan under the remit of the Committee, plus additional deliverables that had been agreed by the Committee. It established the main priorities and programmes of work that the Committee was overseeing to maximise the Council’s contribution to the Belfast Agenda and delivering the previous corporate priorities of inclusive economic recovery and community recovery.


            It was reported that work was ongoing to develop a new Corporate Plan (and Committee Plans) for the 2024-2038 period.


            It was reported that, while the work of the Committee would contribute towards a number of the priorities identified within the refreshed Belfast Agenda, work had also continued to deliver on longer term plans for the city. Therefore the 2023-24 Committee Plan included key priorities that would help the people and businesses of Belfast continue to respond to, and recover from, the economic impact of the pandemic while also shaping the future regeneration, development and sustainability of the city.


            The Committee was informed that, while the Committee received regular updates on progress with the delivery of specific programmes and initiatives, the report provided a composite overview and Appendix 1 outlined the progress with the main commitments in the Committee Plan for the six month period, April- September 2023. It was highlighted that many of the commitments would continue to be delivered over the course of the year and the Committee would be kept informed of the progress.


            The Committee noted the contents of the mid-year report and progress against the agreed actions within the 2023-24 City Growth and Regeneration Committee Plan.



Minutes of the Meeting of the Belfast Stories Working Group pdf icon PDF 237 KB


            The Committee approved and adopted the minutes of the meeting of the Belfast Stories Working Group of 26th October.



Approval for a Market at Titanic Belfast pdf icon PDF 333 KB


            The Director of Economic Development advised that the Markets Unit had received an application from Titanic Belfast for Tedberry Market scheduled to take place at the Titanic Exhibition Centre (TEC) on Saturday, 25th November 2023 from10am-5pm.


            He stated that it would be a one-off Christmas themed event/exhibition which supported local entrepreneurs and small businesses in Northern Ireland, all showcased under one roof for one day only.


            He advised that there would be approximately 180-200 Christmas themed stalls for shopping, crafts and food and visitors would be able to purchase goods on the day and also pre order goods with crafts people showcased. This highlighted that it would be a paid entry event with Ticket prices of £8 per Adult and £3 per Child (aged 0-16).


            During discussion, concerns were raised in relation to the late application and a number of Members questioned the market licence charges.


            After discussion, the Committee approved the external market to take place in the TEC Titanic Belfast and noted that the license requirement would be highlighted to the TEC for future events. The Committee also noted that market licence charges would be reviewed by the Director and circulated to the Committee.