Agenda item


The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to provide the Committee with an update on the Eastern Transport Plan (ETP) 2035 and to agree a draft Council response to the current public engagement exercise that commenced with the launch of the Plan on 4th September 2023.


2.0       Recommendation


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


·        Note the update on the ETP 2035; and

·        Agree the proposed Council response to the initial public engagement exercise that is currently underway.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       As members will be aware the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) is developing the Eastern Transport Plan 2035 (previously known as the Belfast Metropolitan Transport Plan (BMTP) for the city and four of the surrounding local authorities with the consultants Atkins assisting in the detailed work on what will be the statutory Transport Plan for the city.


            Plan renaming


3.2       Following consideration of stakeholder feedback and acknowledgement that the new Transport Plan will cover a greater geographical area than that of the previous 2004 version, the DfI Permanent Secretary took the decision to change the name of the Plan from the BMTP to the Eastern Transport Plan (ETP) 2035. The Council is disappointed that it was not consulted on this change nor was the Project Board on which the Council is represented. The Department is hoping that this renaming will result in increased levels of community engagement across the Plan Area.


3.3       The Committee received a presentation on the ETP from Mr A. Rafferty (DfI) and Mr D. Murray (Atkins) on 28th June 2023 which set out the background to the Plan; an overview of the approach; delivery timescales and phasing; and details of the draft Vision, Objectives and General Principles. Mr Rafferty agreed to receive further technical questions from the Committee to which DfI would provide a response. A letter was sent to Mr Rafferty from Democratic Services on 21st September 2023 which set out the queries raised at the Committee together with other technical questions concerning the relationship between the ETP and the Belfast Local Development Plan (see Appendix 1).


            ETP launch and public engagement exercise


3.4       On 4th September 2023 the Department publicly announced its intention to prepare the ETP, a ‘new transport plan that will set the framework for making transport policy and investment decisions up until 2035’ and ‘aims to ensure that the transport network meets the needs of the people and businesses living, working and visiting the ETP area, both now and into the future’. An 8-week public engagement exercise commenced with this announcement and seeks views of individuals and organisations on the draft Vision and Objectives for the Plan. This initial consultation exercise closes on 30th October 2023. 


3.5       At this early stage of the Plan’s development the Department is seeking to ascertain people’s views on:


·        The problems we need to solve (Challenges);

·        The end goal we want to achieve (Our Vision); and

·        How we will get there (Our Objectives and Guiding Principles)


            An online Engagement Survey has been published by the Department and is primarily targeted at individuals although organisations are able to participate. The questions are typically generic and high-level reflecting the aspirational elements of the Plan and as such, understandably, there is a lack of operational detail on specific policies, proposals and initiatives that will be brought forward as the Plan develops. The survey questions are included at Appendix 2 for information. There will be further opportunities for the Council and the public to provide formal responses to these issues as the preparation of the ETP progresses e.g. at the Draft Plan stage.


            Council response


3.6       Internal consultation on the engagement survey has been undertaken with a range of sections and services within the Council – Climate, Economic Development, City Regeneration & Development, Neighbourhood Services and Estates. There is broad support for the approach taken and direction of travel the Department is proposing however it has been reiterated that there will need to be more detailed consideration of the specific policies, proposals and initiatives that emerge as the

            Plan develops and in particular how these might impact upon schemes currently in development.


3.7       Council support for the ETP will in part be influenced by the Department’s response to the queries raised in the letter of 21st September 2023 (Appendix 1). Given that the engagement survey is primarily targeted at individuals it is suggested that rather than completing the survey the Council submits a written response outlining any issues arising from this initial consultation and the approach proposed (see Appendix 3).


3.8       Financial and Resource Implications


            None associated with this report.


3.9       Equality or Good Relations Implications/

            Rural Needs Assessment


            None associated with this report.”


            The Committee agreed to adopt the recommendations contained within the report.


Supporting documents: