Agenda item


            The Director of City Regeneration and Development submitted for the Committee’s consideration the following report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report/Summary of main Issues


1.1            To provide the Committee with an update on the progress of the Cork Belfast Docklands Regeneration Shared Island Initiative.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


                                               i.     note the update on the progress of the Cork Belfast Docklands Regeneration Initiative under the Shared Island Fund;


                                             ii.     agree the prioritised project for the Belfast Dockside Regeneration as the Sailortown to Titanic Quarter Active Travel Bridge; and



                                            iii.     note that further updates on this progress of this funding bid will be brought to future meetings of the City Growth and Regeneration and Strategic Policy and Resources Committees.


3.0       Main Report




3.1       As reported to the Climate and City Resilience Committee in March 2023 and ratified by the Council in April, the Council was approached by Cork City Council to work in partnership under the Shared Island Local Authority Development Funding Scheme. Under this funding scheme, more than €4.3m was allocated to 15 lead Local Authorities in the South, working in partnership with 9 Councils in Northern Ireland to develop collaborative cross-border investment projects aligned to the Shared Island Investment priorities of delivering a more prosperous, a more connected and a more sustainable island.  Under the conditions of the fund, the Southern Local Authority forms the lead applicant for the bid. €90k was allocated to the Cork-Belfast partnership to develop up a Cork Belfast Solar PV Study and to develop investment opportunities aligned to docklands regeneration. An update on the Cork Belfast Solar PV project was presented to the Climate and City Resilience Committee on 10th August.


Cork- Belfast Docklands Project


3.2       The Docklands project focus arose from the opportunity to connect two important maritime economies and drive decarbonisation, growth and innovation. Ports are key hubs for trade and investment and support SME's and employ thousands of workers. Significant capital investment is planned for both the Belfast Waterside and Cork City Docklands areas and these areas represent two of the largest regeneration areas in Europe. Belfast City Council and Cork City Council have secured funding under the Shared Island initiative to assess the synergies and opportunities to overcome the existing challenges within the respective areas. This work will also set out the wider benefits of the proposed Cork-Belfast collaboration under the Shared Island initiative, and to provide a list of potential catalyst regeneration projects including providing spatial requirements, connectivity infrastructure and place-making requirements and capital investment schedules for the emerging list in conjunction with key stakeholders within each of the respective areas.


3.3       The feasibility work will identify opportunities and mechanisms for collaboration aligned to Climate Action, inclusive community connection, heritage, tourism and innovation and to inform/apply for next stages of the application process for the Shared Island Fund. As lead applicant, Cork City Council has commissioned an integrated consultancy team to develop the project across the two locations with a final submission to be made to the Shared Island Fund by September 2023.


3.4       The Belfast Docklands project was informed by the ongoing work of the Waterfront Task Force, chaired by the Council’s Chief Executive and reported through the CG and R Committee and consisting of key delivery and local stakeholders including Maritime Mile, BHC, TQL, DfC, DfE etc. Aligned to the Bolder Vision Key Move “Embracing the River”, this work entailed a detailed assessment of the completed developments, planned development, catalyst opportunities and gaps in infrastructure supported through detailed stakeholder engagement to inform an emerging Action Plan and prioritised project list. Stakeholder and Community Workshops were held in June/July 2023 to agree the emerging work and the priority project list with a view to complete the work in August 2023. Once completed the final document will be presented to the CG and R Committee for consideration and approval and to SP and R as appropriate. 


3.4       The emerging priority project list that was identified and agreed through the Waterfront Taskforce process include:


            Sailortown to TQ Bridge – Providing a new cross harbour cycle and walking swing bridge this connection would complete the Harbour Loop, a continuous connectivity loop from the Lagan Gateway to the uppermost point of the northern dockside providing a continuous active travel corridor along both sides of the Lagan.


The Project will improve connections between the Sailortown Community and the Queen’s Island economic opportunities, restitching the original ship building facilities at Clarendon Dock with maritime facilities on the eastern quays.


The proposed bridge will also provide enhanced connections between the North Belfast communities and the education, tourism, employment and innovation opportunities within Queens Island as well as providing a critical sustainable and active link between Yorkgate Train Station and the Queens Island.


Thompson Dock and Harbour Park – This project would provide a new tourism and event destination in the Thompson Dry Dock adjacent to the new Titanic Distillery combined with a new Harbour Park to provide land and marine based biodiversity provision.


City Centre/City Quays/Queens Island Gateway Scheme – this project would provide a key connectivity link between the opportunities of the City Centre, City Quays and Queens Island. It would provide enhanced active travel provision, biodiversity and increased leisure facilities between these three significant areas of employment and city centre living opportunities.


Kickstart the Waterfront Vision – Introducing meanwhile uses along the Maritime Mile to draw footfall and animation along the waterfront, including water-based activities and marine ecological enrichment.


3.6       The projects from both Cork and Belfast were considered through a Multi-Criteria Assessment (MCA) to identify the preferred Shared Island Project. Stage 1 of the MCA undertook a project assessment at a local level with each of the Belfast and Cork Projects undergoing evaluation aligned to the Southern NDP priorities and the Shared Island objectives of Prosperous, Connected, and Sustainable.  At Stage 2, the Cork and Belfast projects were paired and evaluated under their potential to progress and elevate at a Shared Island level.


3.7       The paired projects are outlined as below and were scored in consideration of the paired projects potential to provide an opportunity for further collaboration & cooperation and how the pair deliver the on the Shared Island regional goals. Following the MCA evaluation process the Cork Water Street Active Travel Swing Bridge / Belfast Sailortown to TQ Active Travel Swing Bridge emerged as the strongest paired project to bring forward under the Shared Island Docklands Regeneration Initiative. This prioritisation has been agreed across the Waterfront Taskforce partners, subject to finalisation of internal approval processes.


Cork Project

Belfast Project

North Quayside public realm and active travel route

City Centre / City Quays / Odyssey Quays Gateway Scheme

South Quayside public realm and active travel route

City Centre / City Quays / Odyssey Quays Gateway Scheme

Water Street Cycle/Walking Swing Bridge

Sailortown to TQ Cycle/Walking Swing Bridge

Marine Park Phase 2

Thompson Dock & Harbour Park


3.9       The pairing of the two bridges will provide connections at a local level for both docklands in terms of reconnecting communities to the areas of opportunities, providing enhanced leisure facilities along the Lagan and the Lee, and provide a significant contribution in terms of delivering sustainable and active travel infrastructure to enable the respective dockland areas to meet their climate obligations.


3.10     At a Shared Island level, the bridges provide an opportunity for the two cities to deliver landmark infrastructure projects underpinned with a collaborative approach to delivering the infrastructure, as well as enhancing shared learning through the project delivery and lessons learnt in terms of delivering successful docklands regeneration incorporating marine and land based biodiversity and ensuring effective connections between the docklands to existing and new communities. This project would also serve as an opportunity for the two dockland areas to further explore longer term collaboration aligned to our shared maritime past and the future opportunities for collaboration under key growth sectors including tourism and innovation.


Next Steps


            Pending approval across the relevant Stakeholders governance arrangements, the final submission to the Shared Island Fund will be complete in September 2023. This submission will outline the potential of the preferred paired projects for the Cork and Belfast docklands areas and the paired projects contribution to the objectives of the Shared Island Fund, a feasibility assessment outlining the project steps to delivery including funding requirements, project risks and issues to enable the paired projects to be considered for a next stage of funding through the Shared Island initiative. Updates on the progress of this work will be presented to future meetings of the CG and R and SP and R Committees.

Finance and Resource Implications


3.12     There are no financial implications associated with this report.


            Equality or Good Relations Implications/

            Rural Needs Assessment


3.13     An EQIA/SEA/Rural Needs Assessment will be carried out on the emerging Waterfront Taskforce work and will be considered through the next stages of any potential next steps of the Shared Island process.”


            The Committee adopted the recommendations.


Supporting documents: