Agenda and minutes

Venue: Lavery Room, City Hall

Contact: Eilish McGoldrick, Democratic Services Officer 

No. Item




            Apologies were reported on behalf of Councillors Canavan, S. Douglas, McDonough-Brown and McLaughlin.





            The minutes of the meeting of the 13th and 27th March were taken as read and signed as correct.  It was reported that those minutes had been adopted by the Council at its meeting on 8th April.



Declarations of Interest


            Councillors Nic Bhranair and Walsh declared an interest in item 5.a) Update on Neighbourhood Tourism, in that the organisation they worked for was in receipt of funding from the Programme and left the room whilst the item was under discussion. 



Agenda Items and Late Reports


            The Chairperson expressed her disappointment with the late reports submitted to the Committee and highlighted that every effort should be made to avoid such an occurrence in the future, to allow the Committee ample time to consider the items thoroughly.



Restricted Items


            The information contained in the report associated with the following two 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 items as, due to the nature of the items, there would be a disclosure of exempt information as described in Section 42(4) and Schedule 6 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014.


            Members were also reminded that the content of ‘restricted’ reports and any discussion which took place during closed session must be treated as ‘confidential information’ and that no such information should be disclosed to the public as per Paragraph 4.15 of the Code of Conduct.  



Vacant to Vibrant Programme


            The Committee was provided with an update on the Vacant to Vibrant Programme and the recommendations from the Vacant to Vibrant assessment panel following the recent receipt and assessment of applications.


The Committee:


                                 I.     Noted the update in relation to the city centre Vacant to Vibrant Programme; and


                               II.     Agreed to the recommended grant awards as outlined within Section 3.14 of the report.





Translink - Belfast Grand Central Station (RESTRICTED)


            The Chairperson welcomed Mr. D. McAllister, Head of Belfast Grand Central Station Programme, Mr. D. Curry - General Manager Bus Services, and Ms. L. Shannon, Corporate Communications Manager, representing Translink to the meeting.


            The representatives provided an update of the Belfast Grand Central Station/ Weavers Cross Transport Led Regeneration Project which included details of the Street Works Programme and Public Transport Interventions, together with Rail Engineering Works for 2024.


            The Committee noted the contents of the Presentation and agreed that Translink could present further updates at future Special Committees, if required.



Regenerating Places and Improving Infrastructure


Belfast City Centre Regeneration Tracker pdf icon PDF 353 KB


            The Director of City Regeneration and Development presented a Review of the regeneration and development activity which had been undertaken in 2023 in relation to the Belfast City Centre Regeneration Tracker, which included the Role of the city centre and the Benefits of investment, together with its aligned to the eight core policies of the Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy (BCCRIS.


The Committee then considered the undernoted report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       To provide Members with an update on the Belfast City Centre Regeneration Tracker which captures regeneration and development activity which took place in the City Centre during 2023, as aligned to the eight core policies of the Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy (BCCRIS).  The detail of this report will be provided by way of a presentation at Committee.


2.0       Recommendation


2.1       Members are asked to note that:


i)       An overview of regeneration and development activity which took place in Belfast City Centre and Titanic Quarter during 2023, as aligned to the eight core principles set out in the Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy, will be provided by way of a presentation to be made to this Committee on 10th April 2023. 


ii)     This will include identifying challenges and proposed next steps to help unlock the next stage of the delivery of the Regeneration & Investment Strategy priorities for discussion with Members.


4.0       Main Report


4.1       As members are aware the Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy (BCCRIS) sets out our collective ambition for the continued growth and regeneration of the city core and its surrounding areas for the period 2015 to 2030. It contains a road map of policies to guide city centre decision-making and key projects that translate those policies into action, aligned to our overarching ambitions outlined within the Belfast Agenda. BCCRIS seeks to address the universal elements of a thriving city centre as well as challenges and conditions that are unique to Belfast and is underpinned by the following eight core principles:


·        Increase the Employment Population;

·        Increase the Residential Population;

·        Manage the Retail Offer;

·        Maximise the Tourism Opportunity;

·        Create Regional Learning and Innovation Centres;

·        Create a Green, Walkable, Cyclable Centre;

·        Connect to the City Around, and

·        Shared space and social impact.


4.2       To facilitate the implementation of the eight policies for the city centre, BCCRIS identified a series of projects aimed at creating a liveable and economically thriving city, alongside,

            identifying the following five Special Action Areas:


·        Inner North

·        Inner West

·        North East Quarter

·        Transport Hub and South Centre

·        Oxford Street and the Eastern Bank


4.3       The city centre provides an important role for Belfast, the Council and the wider region given Belfast’s role as the regional driver and the critical role the city centre in particular plays in terms of employment, investment, tourism, education and a place to live and to visit. , The city centre makes up 2.6% of Belfast’s spatial area but represents the largest employment base employing over 86,000 workers across  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Positioning Belfast to Compete


Update on Neighbourhood Tourism pdf icon PDF 454 KB


The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to further update Members on the research and engagement work undertaken to date which will inform the development of a new Neighbourhood Tourism Investment Programme in due course.


            The report also provides an outline proposal for future funding of the existing City Connections programme.


2.0       Recommendation


2.1       Committee is asked to:


i)       Note the contents of this paper and subsequent next steps for final scoping and designing of an appropriate Neighbourhood Tourism funding model, which suits the needs of applicants and their stage of development whilst also meeting council ambitions.

ii)     Consider the recommendation to allow funding to be released under strand one of the programme to EastSide Partnership and Fáilte Feirste Thiar, in recognition of their current capacity to deliver on objectives relating to neighbourhood tourism.


3.0       Main Report


            Programme Aims:


            In June 2023, Members granted permission to proceed with the development of a new Neighbourhood Tourism Investment Programme. This pilot programme will provide mentoring and financial support over a two - year period, to promote the development and implementation of market-led tourism products and experiences in locales across the city, increasing footfall, dwell time and spend and sharing the benefits of tourism beyond the city centre.The programme also aims to prioritise collaborative working models and uplift sectoral capacity, skill and growth.


            Research and Engagement 1: Open Workshops (x9):


            Extensive research has already been undertaken with a range of internal and external sectoral stakeholders.  This work has helped to identify needs, gaps and opportunities and will help inform programme criteria and ensure proposals are aligned with the ambitions of ‘Belfast Stories’.


            Neighbourhood Tourism workshops were a key part of the recent engagement work at which both groups and individuals could find out more about Neighbourhood Tourism and express their own views and prioritisations around thematic questions.


            Nine workshops were held across inner and outer North, South, East and West Belfast and the city centre which attracted 98 participants from 58 organisations.  These were held in the following venues: Belfast Castle, Ulster Museum, City Hall, EastSide Visitors’ Centre; St Comgall’s, Malone House, Shorts Recreational Club, Roddy McCorley Centre and Crumlin Road Gaol.


            In order to accommodate input from people who were not able to attend the workshops, two further avenues of engagement were made available via:


·        an offer to meet one - to - one with an independent facilitator and;

·        (ii) an online survey. 


            The Neighbourhood Tourism workshops followed a set format, with participants addressing six specific questions:


i)       How would you describe your neighbourhood to a tourist?

ii)     Market segments : does this reflect the interests of visitors who visit your area?

iii)    Stories : what stories do local people want to share with tourists?

iv)    Neighbourhood products and experiences : what already exists?  what could be done that is new?

v)     Itineraries : how ready is your neighbourhood to welcome visitors?

vi)    What  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


International Relations Activity - New York-New Belfast event pdf icon PDF 324 KB


            The Committee was reminded of the ongoing work to develop and deliver a range of activities to attract further foreign direct investment and capital investment in the city and support the growth and scaling of innovative Belfast companies in key growth sectors. This included support for trade development and export support; engagement in showcasing and promotional activities in key markets and development of promotional collateral and materials setting out the sectoral and infrastructure offer in the city.


            The Director of Economic Development advised that one of the key international opportunities to promote the business and investment opportunities in Belfast was the annual New York-New Belfast (NYNB) showcase event which had been running for more than a decade. For the last three years, the event had been streamlined to focus on seeking economic opportunity within New York City and the wider east coast. Over 150 business, civic and political leaders gather to hear the latest Belfast capital developments and trade and investment offer across our growth sectors. An added dimension to the showcase was an opportunity to promote the tourism and cultural offers within the city, including the 2024 Year of Culture programme.


            He stated that, this year, presented an opportunity to update potential investors on the progress of the Belfast Region City Deal key assets. An increasingly important area of engagement with the US market was the growing number of scaling companies seeking investment and mentorship to launch into the US market. Finally, the event and associated meetings provided an opportunity to meet face to face with companies which were considering establishing a base in Europe, to  encourage them to explore Belfast as an investment location – particularly given the unique  investment proposition that the region now benefited from. He reported that, as well as the business event, the Council delegation would undertake a series of targeted business meetings in partnership with Invest NI’s USA office. 


            He confirmed that the 15th NYNB event would take place on 6th June, 2024. Among key attendees and speakers were Comptroller Tom Di Napoli, who continued to invest US Pension Funds into NI businesses, as well as committed supporter of Belfast, Michael Flannery, who worked with US-based tech businesses targeting global markets.


            The Committee approved a financial contribution of £5,000 towards the 2024 New York New Belfast event and agreed to the attendance of the Lord Mayor and relevant senior officials, up to a to a maximum estimated cost of £8,000.



Update on Lord Mayor's Day pdf icon PDF 416 KB


            The Director of Economic Development provided an overview of the Lord Mayor's Day Event, which would take place on Saturday, 18th May, encompassing a day of festivities in City Hall Grounds between 12pm-5pm. He highlighted that it would also align with welcoming Little Amal to the city and the Lord Mayor would host Little Amal as part of the event.


            The Committee approved the proposal for the Lord Mayor's Day Event and allocated a budget of £42,000 for its implementation. The Committee noted that the event played a crucial role in promoting civic pride and cultural heritage.



Strategic and Operational Issues


City Growth and Regeneration Committee Plan 2024-2025- Update pdf icon PDF 335 KB


The Committee noted that the draft Committee Plan would be presented for consideration at its meeting in May and that, subsequently, it might require updating when the four year Corporate Plan for the Council had been agreed.



Notice of Motion Quarterly Update pdf icon PDF 334 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee was advised that there were 11 Notices of Motion and Issues Raised in Advance for which it was responsible for.


            It was reported that the Committee should consider the recommendation to close seven motions, as follows:


Category 1 Recommended Closures

·        Review of the Belfast Bikes Scheme (ID = 72)

·        Disabled Parking Accreditation Scheme (ID = 153)

·        Translink – Night-time provision of services (ID = 289)

·        Support the network of WW2-era Pillboxes (ID = 303)

·        Cathedral Quarter (ID = 318)

·        Late Night Public Transport (ID = 349)


            Category 2 Recommended Closures

·        Street Art Walls (ID = 329)


            During discussion, in response to a Member’s question in relation to the continued issue outlined in the Translink – Night-time provision of services Motion (ID = 289), the Director of City Regeneration and Development advised that the need had been identified by Translink as an action with the Community and Active Sustainable Travel Group. The Senior Manager also highlighted that during a presentation from the Purple Flag Initiative representatives to the All-Party Working Group on the City Centre in January, Members had been informed that 3 Belfast Improvement Districts were working with Translink to explore funding options to progress the issue.


            One Member requested that the Disabled Parking Accreditation Scheme Motion (ID = 153) remained open, so that a report could be submitted on the costs and process of joining the Disability Motoring UK’s Disabled Parking Accreditation scheme.




            Moved by Councillor McMullan,

            Seconded by Councillor Lyons,


      In relation to the update on the Motion ‘Review of the Belfast Bikes Scheme’ (ID = 72), from March 2020, to consider granting free access to young people to the Belfast Bikes Scheme, the Committee agrees that it would consider this as part of the rate setting process for 2025/26.


            On a vote by show of hands, four Members voted for the proposal and ten against and it was accordingly declared lost.


Accordingly, the Committee:


·        Noted the updates to all Notices of Motion that the Committee was responsible for as referenced in Appendix 1; and

·        Agreed to the closure of six Notices of Motion, as referenced in Appendix 1 and noted in paragraph 3.4 of the report (with the exception of ID = 153); and


·        Agreed that the Disabled Parking Accreditation Scheme Motion (ID = 153) remained open, so that a report could be submitted on the associated costs and process of joining the Disability Motoring UK’s Disabled Parking Accreditation scheme, for consideration at a future Committee.



Issues Raised in Advance by Members


Belfast 2024 Animation - Culture Night (Cllr Groogan to raise)


            In response to the Deputy Lord Mayor’s suggestion to support cultural venues in the City to open on the evening of ‘Culture Night’ in September, within the Belfast 2024 Programme of events, the Committee agreed to refer the decision to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on 19th April for consideration so that further detail of how this could be facilitated, resourced and managed could be provided.