Agenda and minutes

Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall

Contact: Henry Downey, Democratic Services Officer  x6311

No. Item




            Apologies for inability to attend were reported on behalf of Councillors Graham, Lyons and McAllister.





            The minutes of the meeting of 9th and 23rd 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 4th November.



Declarations of Interest


            No declarations of Interest were reported.



Schedule of Meetings 2020 pdf icon PDF 60 KB


            The Committee approved the following schedule of monthly meetings for the 2020 and agreed that it should continue to meet at 5.15 p.m.:


·      Wednesday, 15th January;

·      Wednesday, 12th February;

·      Wednesday, 4th March;

·      Wednesday, 8th April;

·      Wednesday, 13th May;

·      Wednesday, 10th June;

·      Wednesday, 12th August;

·      Wednesday, 9th September;

·      Wednesday, 7th October;

·      Wednesday, 11th November; and

·      Wednesday, 9th December.


            The Committee agreed also that its monthly meeting on 4th December should commence at the earlier time of 4.30 p.m.



Restricted Items


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



Update on Strategic Sites Assessment

Additional documents:


            The Committee was reminded that, in August 2018, the Council had commissioned a Strategic Sites Assessment in order to assess the regeneration potential of its fifteen publicly operated car parks within the City centre, as well as adjoining publicly owned land.


            The Acting Director of City Regeneration and Development submitted for the Committee’s consideration a report which provided an update on the findings of Phase 1 of the assessment and their context in terms of wider City regeneration. The report gave consideration also to further work to be undertaken to progress the three priority cluster sites, namely, Inner North West, Clarendon and Ormeau Avenue in phases, along with other appropriate land holdings, and to deliver a comprehensive programme of mixed use regeneration.


            After a lengthy discussion, the Committee:


i.         noted the progress on Phase 1 of the Strategic Sites Assessment and the Member engagement to date;


ii.       agreed to receive at a future meeting a report on the potential to deliver a comprehensive programme of mixed used regeneration, with an overall predominance of residential use utilising these sites alongside commercial development to support job creation, to include the potential for working with adjacent landowners, funding options and potential for joint ventures;


iii.      agreed that the proposals for each of the SSA priority clusters should be progressed as follows:


(a)      carry out further engagement with the local communities and the Department for Communities prior to preparing recommendations for a route to delivery for the Inner North West Northern Cluster that is in accordance with the Inner North West Masterplan;


(b)      create a Development Framework for the Inner North West Southern Cluster showing desired uses and potential delivery arrangements, including the potential to re-imagine Smithfield Market;


(c)      create a Development Framework involving adjacent landholdings at the Dunbar Cluster;


(d)      agree that the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee should consider the feasibility of taking ownership of the Department of Finance’s Corporation Street site, taking into account the capital requirements to acquire the land, including the potential for land swaps with the Department of Finance;


(e)      prepare an outline planning application for the Ormeau Avenue site and undertake further engagement with surrounding communities regarding potential mix and tenure of the site;


iv.      agreed that the Council site at Gloucester Street should be considered as part of the strategic site delivery programme;


v.       agreed to the inclusion of the Council’s Hope Street Car Park and Whitla Street Car Park within the planning and master planning considerations for Weavers Cross regeneration project and the Yorkgate Train Station Project respectively;


vi.      agreed to complete a traffic modelling assessment of the road infrastructure surrounding Ravenhill Rest Gardens and to explore potential development opportunities through junction realignment;


vii.    noted that work had been carried out through the Belfast  Agenda to quantify the demand for residential growth in Belfast, and that the Council and DfC were currently jointly undertaking further work to understand the residential market;


viii.   noted that work was ongoing to establish the impact that the above developments  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3a


Growing Businesses and the Economy


Update on Belfast - Dublin Economic Corridor pdf icon PDF 340 KB


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


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to provide the Committee with an update on progress to date on work to support the development of the Belfast-Dublin Economic Corridor and to set out the possible way forward to progress this work. 


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is requested to:


                                          i.     note the outcomes from the research paper undertaken by the University of Ulster’s Economic Policy Centre and Dublin City University; and


                                         ii.     endorse the emerging plans for the Belfast-Dublin Economic Corridor.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       Members will be aware that Belfast City Council and Dublin City Council have a longstanding working relationship built up over many years and focused principally on issues relating to economic development and city growth.


3.2       More recently, at the Council meeting in May 2018, Councillor McAllister proposed the following motion, which was seconded by Councillor Long and referred to this Committee:


            ‘This Council acknowledges the ever growing importance of relations between Belfast City and Dublin City as the main economic drivers within each jurisdiction. Furthermore, regardless of the outcome of negotiations around Brexit, it is imperative that relations continue to flourish between both cities, to the mutual benefit of all along this increasingly significant economic corridor. Accordingly, this Council agrees to establish a joint plan around co-operation regarding working relationships within the economic corridor. Going forward, this Council commits to ensuring key areas of progress and collaboration focussing on:


·        a complementary approach to inward investment and job growth;

·        achieving Inclusive growth; and

·        developing Infrastructure and connectivity.’


3.3       In taking this forward, officers have engaged with councils along the economic corridor.  A partnership has been established including four councils in Northern Ireland and four in RoI.  The council partners are: Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council; Belfast City Council; Dublin City Council; Fingal County Council; Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council; Louth County Council; Meath County Council; and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.


3.4       In order to shape the future direction of the partnership and identify economic opportunities along the corridor, Dublin City University and Ulster University were commissioned to carry out research on behalf of the councils. 


3.5       The research paper has now been completed.  It notes that examples of economic corridors in other locations offer learning for the Belfast-Dublin economic corridor.  The key success factor for these locations is the need for a clear articulation of what additional economic growth might arise from the enhanced regional and local inter-governmental collaboration.  That means articulating clearly the benefit that will accrue from enhanced levels of engagement over and above what can be expected if partners are to continue to maintain the status quo and pursue their individual economic agendas.  Clearly this will involve consideration of physical infrastructure but there are also opportunities for business to business collaboration and enhanced engagement among the research institutions along the corridor. 


3.6       The report details the current  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Regenerating Places and Improving Infrastructure


Improving City Centre Connections pdf icon PDF 267 KB


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of Main Issues


1.1       This report provides an update on (i) the City Centre Connectivity Study (CCCS), co-commissioned with the Department for Communities and the Department for Infrastructure, including the proposed process and engagement to develop the City centre Future Vision, and (ii) on the emerging work programme with DfC in relation to civic spaces.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is requested to:


                                          i.     note the appointment of the Jacobs consultancy team to carry out the CCCS and develop the future vision for Belfast city centre. This will include examining models of pedestrianisation and other initiatives in a way which facilitates the development of the city centre, enabling both pedestrian enjoyment and public transport access while ensuring a vibrant and inclusive space for the future city centre;


                                        ii.     agree to develop communication and awareness raising programme that builds interest and discussion in the city about the future shape and functions of the city centre;


                                       iii.     agree to progress the exploratory work to determine the impact of the proposed transfer of civic spaces from DfC to the Council;


                                       iv.     agree to the Jacobs Consultancy team presenting the draft Future Vision to the Committee in February, 2020.


3.0       Main Report


            City Centre Connectivity Study


3.1       The Belfast Agenda outlines the City’s ambition to promote the development of sustainable transport and includes promoting walking and cycling. The support, and concept, of sustainable place-making in the city reflects one of the key policies in the Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy (BCCRIS), which seeks to create a green, walkable, cycable city centre.  It specifically references the lack of green space and tree-lined streets, and identifies the need for rebalancing the scales between tarmac and soft landscaping and recognises that there is no provision for children in the city centre.


3.2       As outlined at the City Growth and Regeneration Committee meeting in June, the Council, the Department for Communities and the Department for Infrastructure have agreed to jointly commission a study to examine how the City Centre could develop in a way that is people-focused, inclusive and welcoming for all.  The focus of the study is on place-making and will include an examination of models of pedestrianisation and other initiatives, which would facilitate the development of the City Centre, enabling both pedestrian enjoyment and sustainable access. The area of focus for the study will be the primary retail core of the city centre but it will also address the connectivity issues between the city centre and adjacent communities and key connectivity routes. A joint, BCC, DfC and DfI press release was issued following the meeting that reiterated the agreed commitment to undertaking an holistic and ambitious study of the city centre. Coupled with the recent council declaration of a Climate Emergency the study provides an opportunity to explore issues and solutions within, and around the city centre, and is in line with the Air Quality Action  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


City Centre Revitalisation Programme pdf icon PDF 436 KB


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       To update the Committee on the progress of the Revitalisation Programme and provide a quarterly update on the work of the City Centre Regeneration Task Force.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to note:


                                             i.      the progress on the City Revitalisation Programme;


                                           ii.     the progress to date on the priority areas of the City Centre Regeneration Task Force; and


                                  iii.the established governance structures and procedures to deliver the City Centre Regeneration Task Force Action Plan as business as usual.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       City Revitalisation Programme update


            Since the detailed update provided to the Committee on 7th August, officers continue to engage with key stakeholders to further develop and deliver a programme of activity to enhance the vitality and sustainability of the city centre, in the context of the budget envelopes previously agreed by the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on 22nd February 2019.  The following sections provide an update on the programme of activity being delivered across the City Revitalisation strands including:


·        Physical and Environmental Improvements

·        Enhanced Animation Programme

·        Marketing and Communications


            Physical and Environmental Improvements


                                          i.     Pop- Up Park


3.2       Work is continuing on proposals to deliver a pop-up park to Cathedral Gardens in time for Spring 2020, along with a bid to DfC for additional funding to increase the potential scope of the works. A design team (Park Hood) has been appointed and engagement with key stakeholders to inform design development is programmed to take place during October / November. The project is expected to be in place for a period of up to two years as a pilot project for the permanent Cathedral Gardens works.


                                         ii.     Bank Square Canopy


3.3       A key project for the City Revitalisation Programme was exploring the creation of an outdoor covered space for retailer-led themed events and other animation activity in Bank Square. Two pilot temporary canopy structures had been put in place during July and September, with an extensive and diverse programme of animation and events delivered attracting visitors and shoppers to spend time in the area.  In response to the first pilot installation in July, feedback from the public has been generally positive. Some reservations have been expressed by local businesses regarding the management and use of the canopy, in that the space was not licensed but was positioned adjacent to a number of licensed premises. This feedback was reflected during the second installation in September, with the canopy re-positioned to the north of Bank Square to make clear its function as a public space that complements local businesses rather than an extension of the businesses themselves.   In the absence of sufficient consensus among local businesses it is not considered appropriate to proceed with a permanent installation at this time, however should consensus be reached on the proposal by the businesses in the area, the council will reinvestigate and provide a report back to committee setting out the proposed way forward.


                                       iii.     City  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Tourism, Events and International Relations


Update on Cruise Ship Business in Belfast pdf icon PDF 127 KB


            The Committee was informed that Mr. G. Lennon, Chief Executive, and Ms. M. J. McCanny, Director of Visitor Servicing, Visit Belfast, were in attendance in order to provide an update on the cruise ship business in Belfast and they were welcomed to the meeting.


Mr. Lennon informed the Committee that Belfast was now ranked second on the island of Ireland and third in the British Isles in terms of numbers of cruise visitors. He referred to the marked increase in the number of cruise ships visiting the City since 2014 and the associated benefits and highlighted the recent investment by Belfast Harbour and Tourism NI in a new temporary quayside cruise hub, which had opened on 29th May and was being managed by Visit Belfast.


Ms. McCanny provided an analysis of the 2019 cruise season, including cruise lines, inaugural calls, overnight stays, Sunday arrivals and the country of origin of visitors and confirmed that Visit Belfast was awaiting information on cruise visitor activity. She provided also information on the 2020 cruise season and on future projections and concluded by outlining the extent of Visit Belfast’s development and marketing initiatives. 


Mr. Lennon and Ms. McCanny then addressed a number of issues which had been raised by the Members and were thanked by the Chairperson.

After discussion, the Committee:


i.     noted the information which had been provided;


ii.    noted that Visit Belfast would, once finalised, forward information on cruise visitor activity for each of the past three cruise seasons; and


iii.   agreed that Visit Belfast include within its next presentation any available information on the environmental impact of cruise ships visiting the City. 



Update on International Relations pdf icon PDF 230 KB


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to provide the Committee with a six month update on the delivery of the International Relations Framework


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is requested to note the progress of the Council’s International Relations work for the period April – October 2019, as well as the proposed programme of activity for the rest of the financial year.


3.0       Main Report


            Key Issues


3.1       In March 2019, the City Growth and Regeneration Committee approved the International Relations Plan for the financial year 2019/2020.  This report provides an update on the high-level outputs over the last six months, focusing on activity with our Sister Cities of Boston, Nashville and Shenyang, as well as additional international delivery.  It also sets out some of the priority areas of work for the coming six months.


3.2       Members will be aware that a key role for the Council is to act as an enabler to develop linkages and relationships for other partners that will bear fruit in terms of economic return for those organisations and for the city as a whole.  As a result, the international relations activity focuses on areas identified as having the greatest potential for return, principally educational linkages, business linkages and civic/political connections. 


3.3       The report sets out the key activities with each of the Sister Cities (Boston, Nashville and Shenyang) over the last six months, as well as some planned activity until the end of the financial year. 




3.4       Key activities with Boston partners over the last six months include:


3.5      Education


·        Facilitation of an inward visit led by the British American Business Council of New England (BABCNE) in April 2019.  This comprised mainly of academic leaders and they engaged in a series of meetings including:


o   discussions around the development of a strategic partnership between Ulster University and UMASS (the only public university in the State of Massachusetts) focussing on nursing and entrepreneurship;

o   discussions with QUB and UMASS on cooperation around QUB-led Summer Schools on Conflict Resolution;


o   discussions with Ulster University and UMASS on developing a ‘Go Boston’ programme for 100 Ulster University students based on the successful ‘Go Philly’ model for student experience and industry placements; and


o   early discussions between the NOW Group and UMASS on the roll-out of the JAM Card


·        The Council facilitated a return visit in October 2019 by the Head of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts (AICUM).  The purpose of this visit was to explore a range of potential leads with both universities and Belfast Metropolitan College in order to support additional exchanges and to develop joint educational programmes.  This work is ongoing; and


·        The Council supported programming for three Fulbright Scholars who spent six months in Belfast at QUB from January – June 2019.  One of these has led to the potential for theatre and poet links with the Harvard Poets’  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Cultural Strategy – Update on International Events pdf icon PDF 321 KB


            The Director of Development submitted for the Committee’s consideration 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 planned and possible future commitments with regard to International Events.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is requested to:


                                          i.     note the requests for funding;


                                         ii.     note that the resources to support these requests are not available within the existing Departmental budgets; and


                                       iii.     agree to refer any agreed funding requirement to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, with a request to give priority to these requests when considering in year re-allocations.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       Background


            Members will be aware that, at the special meeting of the Committee in August, the new ten-year cultural strategy for Belfast, A City Imagining 2020-30 was agreed. A City Imagining sets out a long-term commitment to facilitating a new integrated phase of culture-led development for Belfast. The strategy brings together the culture, events and tourism functions within Council as well as identifying areas of cross-departmental working and opportunities for collaboration with external partners to support the Belfast Agenda.


3.2       In line with the Cultural Strategy, there is an intention to create strong international connectivity that supports the delivery of the Belfast Agenda and is in keeping with the priority themes and areas of focus.  As part of this process, the Council has made commitments to support a number of internationally/nationally competitive events which move to various cities.  These events were not considered as part of the Cultural Strategy Funding proposal given the high level of uncertainty as to whether they would actually progress  beyond bid stage and ultimately be successful in those processes. These include:


3.3       2021 UEFA Super Cup (winners of the 2021 UEFA Champions League versus winners of the 2021 UEFA Europa League)


            In January 2019, the Committee agreed to provide support for the Irish Football Association’s bid to host the 2021 UEFA Super Cup. It was further agreed that a report was to be brought back to a future meeting of this Committee to update members on progress, including details on the financial implications of hosting the event. Members will be aware that, in early October 2019, it was announced that Belfast has been successful in securing the 2021 UEFA Super Cup event. The requested contribution from Council is £200,000.  This funding would need to be in place for the start of the 2021/2022 financial year.


3.4       2021 FIA World Rally Championship


            In January 2019, the Committee agreed to provide support to the Circuit of Ireland Rally in their bid to stage this event.  Initially the event was to be staged in 2020 but the organisers have requested that this is postponed. Members should note that Tourism NI are still evaluating this event, therefore there is no certainty on the event being staged or in which year it may take place. An update will be brought back to a future meeting of this Committee to update members  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


Strategic and Operational Issues


Update on "Belfast Canvas" Public Art Pilot Project pdf icon PDF 309 KB

Additional documents:


            The Director of Development reminded the Committee that, at its meeting on 27th March, it had agreed to support a pilot public art project entitled “Belfast Canvas”.


            He reported that the project, which was based upon a similar initiative being delivered in Dublin, focused upon enhancing utility boxes within the City’s retail core and the Cathedral Quarter. To date, eighteen boxes had been painted by professional street artists. The second phase of the pilot project would involve artists engaging in the coming weeks with up to six community groups across the City to develop designs for replication on a further twenty-two boxes.


            He reminded the Committee that it had discussed also the possibility of delivering a second phase of the project, which could potentially focus upon the Belfast Rapid Transit route and involve communities from the east and the west of the City working alongside the professional artists in the design process. Officers were currently assessing that proposal and would submit to a future meeting a report providing further details around the engagement process and how the project might align with other activities taking place in these areas for consideration by the Committee.


            The Committee noted the information which had been provided.