Agenda item


            The Committee was reminded that, it had been reported in November 2022, that the Climate Unit and City Regeneration and Development Division were working together to ensure an integrated approach between urban planning, achieving net zero and aspects of resilience such as supporting play and environmental sustainability through engagement with key stakeholders such as young people, families, and businesses, and the Council had been invited at short notice to participate in a Horizon Europe funding application from the UP2030 (Urban Planning 2030) fund. Belfast had been selected as one of the pilot cities and had received a Letter of Intent from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to participate as an associate member of the project. This letter provided €204,250 of revenue funding to support research, training and policy development and officers were working with UKRI to finalise the funding agreement.


            The Senior Development Manager advised that, through the UP2030 funding, the Council would seek to create a scalable framework that would be applied to cross-cutting projects that integrated tree planting, green infrastructure, play and co-design with young people and supported the integration of play and environmental sustainability into city design. Strategically, this connected A Bolder Vision and the Net Zero Roadmap and would test adaptation and mitigation measures to support the emerging Climate Plan.


            He reminded the Committee that, at its meeting in November, the Linen Quarter District was the proposed pilot area, however, the Committee had sought further clarification as to the rationale for choosing the proposed area, and whether it was something that could be further applied to other areas. Following further engagement and participation in the project launch event, approval is sought to enable the project work to commence in the proposed pilot area. He highlighted that, while this work would be undertaken within a defined boundary, the purpose was to produce a framework that could be adapted and used within all communities and districts to set forward net zero approaches, attract funding and deliver climate adaption plans tailored for the issues of that specific district.


            To maintain alignment with A Bolder Vision, the Resilience Strategy and, following dialogue with the project organiser, UP2030, the optimal location was one that combined a mix of core city functions and uses. It was proposed to locate the project in a mixed-use environment that contained residential, hospitality, tourism, commercial, public transport corridors and large transport hubs to ensure adequate capture of a holistic concentration of issues to form a framework that can be easily adapted into any area within the city. The proposed pilot area included mixed functions and land uses, including residential and commercial areas with a focus on those communities that bound the city centre. This area encapsulated an area bounded by May Street and Shaftesbury Square, and the Gasworks and Great Victoria Street, and adjacent city centre communities in the Market, Donegall Pass and Sandy Row, providing a total approximate base of 9,000 residents. This would enable the Council to consider inter-related issues such as the severance and climate issues created by the road infrastructure and other factors such as poor public realm / open space / play provision, air quality and connectivity and specifically the impacts and mitigation measures on existing local communities, newer city centre residents, and mixed commercial uses including offices, hospitality and tourism.


            The Senior Development Manager informed the Committee that the intention was to work across Council departments and with city stakeholders to elevate and embed the learning and approaches from this pilot and identify opportunities in other neighbourhoods to bring forward the concept of net-zero districts across the city.


            He pointed out that, given that the UK was no longer within the EU, the status of the Council had been changed from to being a Partner to that of an Associate which meant that funding would be underwritten by the UK government (UK Research and Innovation, UKRI) fund rather than the EU. The funding was for revenue and did not include any capital costs. He advised that the Council was currently finalising the funding agreement with the UKRI, and project delivery would take place over a three-year period following the kick off meeting in February. Belfast had been assigned a liaison partner, an organisation called Mapping for Change, who would support Belfast throughout the project life span.


            He confirmed that further reports would be brought to this Committee and the City and the Climate and City Resilience Committees as the project progressed.


            During discussion, one Member highlighted the need to ensure the Divis Street area between the M1 and the Inner Ring was also included and the Senior Development Manager confirmed that this area would be included within the Framework.


            After discussion, the Committee:


·        Noted that Belfast, represented by Belfast City Council, was a pilot city within the Horizon Europe UP2030 project which would focus on the development of a net zero neighbourhood framework and toolkit and the use of climate tools to support analysis, mapping and engagement in city neighbourhoods. The project would entail the exchange of knowledge between cities, including site visits and meetings with partner cities and potentially hosting a visit to Belfast within the project lifetime.


·        Noted that, following the report to the Committee on 9th November, 2022, an update was brought to the Climate and City Resilience Committee on 9th February that outlined progress, which included the project start meeting on 1st and 2nd February and provided an outline of the queries raised by the City Growth and Regeneration Committee in November in


relation to the location of the project and proposed that the UP2030 included the Linen Quarter BID district and surrounding city centre neighbourhoods of Sandy Row, Markets and Donegall Pass.


·        Agreed to the proposed geographical location of the UP2030 pilot as outlined in 3.5 of the report, namely, an area bounded by May Street and Shaftesbury Square, and the Gasworks and Great Victoria Street, and adjacent city centre communities in the Market, Donegall Pass and Sandy Row, and to include the area bounded by the M1, the Inner Ring and Divis Street, which would align with A Bolder Vision, Net Zero Roadmap, and provided a holistic mix of local communities, city centre living, commercial and tourism and hospitality.


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