Agenda and minutes

Contact: Eilish McGoldrick, Democratic Services Officer 

No. Item




            Apologies for inability to attend were reported on behalf of Councillors Ferguson and Hanvey.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 880 KB


            The minutes of the meeting of 12th August were taken as read and signed as correct.  It was reported that those minutes had been adopted by the Council at its meeting on 1st September, subject to the amendment of the minute under the heading ‘Department for Communities Access and Inclusion Programme 2020-2021’ to provide that the Council write to the Department to ascertain whether this would be an annual programme and that a report be submitted to the Committee to consider an Access and Inclusion officer role and any financial implications.



Declarations of Interest


            Councillor McMullan declared an interest in relation to item 6a) Cultural Strategy Update in that he was a Council representative on the EastSide Partnership Board.   





EuroPride Bid (Belfast Pride)


            The Director of Economic Development reminded the Committee that following on from the Motion - EuroPride of 20th September, 2019 in relation to supporting Belfast Pride and the LGBT Community to support their bid to bring EuroPride to the city, it had agreed, at its meeting on 12th August, to invite Belfast Pride to the meeting to discuss the EuroPride 2023 bid.


            The Chairperson welcomed to the meeting Mr. S. O’Neill, Ms. M. Armstrong and Mr. L. Cripps, representing Belfast Pride.


            Mr. O’Neill provided an overview of the Belfast Pride organisation, including its aims and objectives. He stated that Belfast Pride had a clear focus on rights and it aimed to promote visibility and equality for LGBT+ people in Belfast.  He highlighted that Belfast Pride needed a large volunteer team to deliver the festival every year.


            He explained the work which had been undertaken by Belfast Pride in relation to its bid for EuroPride 2023 to date. He suggested that the bid was a huge opportunity for Belfast to be a beacon for change and to build on the work which had already been undertaken by various groups on issues such as Peace Building, Marriage Equality, Health and Wellbeing, Trans Community Building, Representing Lesbian and Bi Women and addressing the needs of LGBT+ Young people. 


            He described the outline plan for the bid and presented the programme of events. He highlighted that an action plan had been agreed to collaborate with a range of organisations and community groups.


            Ms. Armstrong provided an overview of the funding and volunteer base of the organisation and emphasised that the organisation aimed to use the bid to improve and develop Belfast Pride, organise better events, build capacity and more volunteer opportunities and move the organisation forward using the bid as leverage to bring long term change.


            During Members questions, Mr. O’Neill explained further engagement and planned collaboration between Belfast Pride and other LGBT+ community organisations, together with letters of support for the bid which had been received. He also clarified information regarding the organisations constitution, liability and legal status.


            During discussion, the Director of Economic Development advised that, as the AGM for the EuroPride 2023 bid was due to take place on 3rd – 4th October, the Council could carry out due diligence in the coming weeks and provide assurance that Belfast Pride were robust enough for Council assistance.


The Chairperson thanked the representative’s from Belfast Pride for their attendance and they retired from the meeting. 




Moved by Councillor Maskey,

Seconded by Councillor Beattie,


      That the Committee agrees to offer corporate Council support and assistance to Belfast Pride for the EuroPride 2023 Bid, subject to the relevant assessment process.



Moved by Councillor O’Hara,

Seconded by Councillor Lyons,


      That the Committee agrees to offer corporate Council support and assistance to Belfast Pride for the EuroPride 2023 Bid, subject to assessment and due diligence process, to include a review of its constitution, minutes of AGMs and election of officers, clarity of legal  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Lighting Strategy pdf icon PDF 430 KB

Additional documents:


            The Director of City Regeneration and Development provided an overview of the report regarding the development of a draft City Lighting Strategy as part of the Future City Centre Programme and draft strategy, ‘Luminous City: A Lighting Strategy for Belfast’, which would be subject to consultation.


            She reminded the Committee that the development of a lighting strategy for the city had been identified as a priority within the Future City Centre Programme and Park Hood had been commissioned to assist the Council with the preparation of a lighting strategy and action plan for the city.


            She explained that ‘Luminous City – A Lighting Strategy for Belfast’ aimed to develop a well-designed, co-ordinated and coherent approach to Belfast’s lighting so that lighting design became an intrinsic part of urban planning. It proposed ways to enhance the functional and aesthetic qualities of light in order to support and develop Belfast’s social, economic and sustainability targets.


            She highlighted that, across a range of key stakeholders, there was a renewed focus on developing an accessible, well connected and sustainable city which supported our social and economic ambitions, celebrating our built environment and heritage as well as improving connections to communities by reducing the severance of harsh infrastructure.


            The Chairperson welcomed Mr. D. Watkiss, Park Hood Consultants.


            Mr. Watkiss provided an overview of the ‘Luminous City: A Lighting Strategy for Belfast’. He advised that the development of the strategy has been informed by an audit of existing infrastructure, analysis of current delivery approaches, and review of international best practice. Given the breadth of interested parties and the often fragmented responsibility for lighting, early and ongoing engagement and consultation has been undertaken which included:


·         Belfast Chamber;

·         Belfast City Centre Management;

·         Visit Belfast;

·         Retail sector (Victoria Square, CastleCourt);

·         Cultural sector (Cathedral Quarter Trust, Household, Sailortown project);

·         Belfast Harbour;

·         Titanic Foundation;

·         Department for Infrastructure;

·         Department for Communities (including the Historic Environment Division);

·         Ulster Architectural Heritage Society; and

·         IMTAC.


            He summarised the consultation responses to date and advised that wider engagement would be undertaken through the ongoing public consultation process throughout September and which would be completed in mid-October, presenting an opportunity to capture the views of local communities and residents.


            He presented a number of pilot lighting projects which had enabled further direct engagement with property owners and members of the public, including through interactive ‘creative stations’ and through Public Engagement Hubs in vacant units. He highlighted the success of the lighting pilot projects on Castle Street, Royal Avenue and Castle Arcade.


            The Committee was informed that a review of the existing lighting infrastructure within Belfast City Centre was undertaken between November 2019 and January 2020. The works involved visual inspections during the day and night which allowed for a review of both the aesthetics of the various fittings and the performance of the lighting itself to be observed and analysed.


            Mr. Watkiss provided examples of the analysis which had taken place in relation to Streetscape and Building Observations, Points of Interest, Key Gateways, Landmarks and Monuments in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Restricted Items


            The information contained in the report associated with the following two items were 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 items as, due to the nature of the items, 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.



Finance Update


            The Committee considered the Finance Update Report which provided information in relation to the ongoing work in the following areas:


1.    Updated forecasts;


2.    The financial impact of recovery plans;


3.    The financial impact of the member agreed decision to invoice rents for all tenants from Quarter 2; and


4.    Employee savings arising from the review of vacant posts.


The Committee noted the contents of the report which had been presented to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee in August, including the August forecast update and theQuarter 1 finance report. 



DFC Covid-19 Town Centre Revitalisation Fund Update on Emerging Proposals


            The Committee was provided with an update on the programmes that would be delivered under the Department for Communities’ (DFC) Town Centre Revitalisation Fund to assist with city recovery measures. This included further information on funding allocation, Initiatives to Support Public Safety, Pavement Café Licences, Physical Interventions and Streetscape Improvements/Reimaging Public Space.


            During discussion, the Director of Economic Development explained further the eligibility of grants, the funding process and proposals which had been received. He highlighted that, in relation to funding from DfC, the Tranche 2 Letter of Offer was expected to be received around 15th October and until this formal letter of offer was issued, the Council incurred any expenditure at risk.  Therefore, to allow officers to plan and procure animation a communications campaign and lighting, approval was sought for officers to plan and procure at risk, in advance of the Tranche 2 Letter of Offer from Department for Communities, due to the tight timescales involved.


            After discussion, the Committee:


·         Noted the priority areas and interventions that would be supported through the Town Centre Revitalisation Fund under tranche one, with further detail to be brought back to Committee as the projects were further developed;


·         Noted the Programme Criteria for the roll out of Business Grants at Appendix 1;


·         Noted the emerging proposals for an animation and marketing programme as part of further funding from DfC as part of the Revitalisation Fund tranche two or other recovery funding;


·         Noted that further detail would be brought back to the Committee in respect of additional physical interventions to be supported as part of the Revitalisation Fund tranche two, pending confirmation of the funding from DfC and  following engagement with stakeholders; and 


·         Agreed to allow officers to plan and procure animation, a communications campaign and lighting, at risk, in advance of the Tranche 2 Letter of Offer from Department for Communities.



Regenerating places and Improving Infrastructure


Future City Centre programme - Physical and Environmental Improvements pdf icon PDF 250 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee considered the following report:


1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       The purpose of the report is to:


-         Update Members on the 5Cs Public Realm Catalyst Project, including design development, and the stakeholder and public engagement plan, including opportunities for direct engagement with Councillors.

-         Update Members on the continued progress of projects within the ‘Physical Regeneration and Environmental Improvements’ strand of the Future City Centre Programme, including the proposal for a second phase of the Entries and Lanes project.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee are requested to:


                                 i.      Note the continued progress with the 5Cs public realm project, including proposals for further Member, stakeholder and public engagement in respect of emerging concept designs.

                               ii.      Note the proposal to bring forward a second phase of the Entries and Lanes project, including concept and design development work, with officers continuing to explore funding opportunities to deliver the physical interventions. 

                              iii.      Note the completion and opening of the pop-up park at Cathedral Gardens.


3.0       Main report


3.1       Background


            The Future City Centre (FCC) Programme has been developed in line with the Belfast Agenda, the Local Development Plan, the Inclusive Growth Strategy and the Cultural Strategy (A City Imagining), and has been informed by the Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy.  Projects within the Programme are also being considered in the context of COVID-19 to ensure that it addresses the range of challenges facing the city centre, including the need to facilitate social distancing and assist businesses with enhanced external spaces.


3.2       FCC Programme: Physical Regeneration

            and Environmental Improvements


            A number of physical projects are currently underway within the city centre, which align with Council and wider city Covid recovery priorities.


3.3       Public Realm Catalyst Projects- ‘The 5 C’s’


            In November 2018, SP&R Committee granted approval to part-fund a pilot public realm ‘catalyst’ project at College Court, College St, College Avenue utilising historic developer contributions (specifically agreed in the legal agreements for public realm) to the value of £475,650 with the remainder of funding to be provided by the Department for Communities. In October 2019, CG&R Committee agreed to proceed with design development and delivery, in partnership with DfC, of further public realm improvements in Chichester St and Callender St, utilising developer contributions (also for public realm) with a value of £293,120, subject to approval by SP&R Committee.  DfC subsequently confirmed commitment of additional funding.


3.4       A public realm project with a total value in the region of £2m has now been developed incorporating the streets referred to above, which will include improvements to footway surfaces, street furniture, lighting and soft landscaping.The project is being delivered by the Department for Communities in partnership with Council through existing governance arrangements established by the Belfast Streets Ahead Board.


3.5       This project is being undertaken in the context of ongoing work to transform connectivity across the city, and will be delivered in line with the principles set out in the City Centre Connectivity Study  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


DfI Call for Evidence on a potential Infrastructure commission for NI - draft response pdf icon PDF 266 KB

Additional documents:


            The Strategic Director of Place and Economy provided an overview of the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1          This report is to update members on the current status of the potential Infrastructure Commission as proposed by DfI Minister Nicola Mallon in July 2020, and to provide detail on the draft response to the Call to Evidence regarding the establishment of an Infrastructure Commission for NI.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1        Members are asked to:


·         Note the Minister for the Department for Infrastructure’s intention to undertake a review of the need for an Infrastructure Commission for NI, and the ongoing process to provide recommendations to the Minister on the role and scope of a potential Infrastructure Commission;

·         Note that the Belfast Commissioner for Resilience, the Belfast Digital Innovation Commissioner and Solace will provide evidence to the Call for Evidence currently underway by the panel established to undertake the review and report.

·         Agree the draft response for Belfast City Council to the Call for evidence that was uploaded to the panel on the 3rd September, subject to committee approval and council ratification.


3.0       Main report


3.1       In July 2020 the Minister for the Department for Infrastructure, Nicola Mallon, announced the establishment of a panel to advise her on the specific row and value of an Infrastructure Commission and how it might be established and operate.


3.2       The role of the panel is to undertake a short, sharp, focused exercise to reflect the hard infrastructure that falls within the remit of the DfI; drainage and inland waterways, public transport, roads and cycling infrastructure. A final report, including a number of recommendations is to be presented to the minister by the end of September 2020.


3.3       Council were notified on the 28th of August that the panel is now established and that a call for evidence would be held between the 3rd and 7th September. The panel members include senior representatives from the following organisations; Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE); Confederation of British Industry (CBI); Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT); University of Ulster Economic Policy Centre; Infrastructure Commission for Scotland; Northern Ireland Environment Link (NIEL).


3.4       Given the timeframes set by the panel council officers provided a draft response to the Call for Evidence, subject to committee and Council approval. Members should also note that the Belfast Commissioner for Resilience, Grainia Long, the Belfast Digital Innovation Commissioner, Jayne Brady, and that Solace, represented by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council CX)  provided evidence to the panel on the 7th September.


3.5       The copy of the draft response for Belfast City Council as updated on the 3rd September is available here).


3.6       The draft response supports the establishment of an independent, expert-led Infrastructure Commission, accountable to the executive and reporting to either the Minister for Infrastructure or the Minister for Finance. A recommendation is made that the Infrastructure Commission should be involved in the early process of strategic planning and the prioritisation of strategic project delivery, and that the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Growing Business & the Economy


Inclusive Growth - Update on the Development of the City Charter and Inclusive Growth Network Launch Event pdf icon PDF 352 KB


            The Committee was reminded that, in March 2020, the Council’s commitments to Inclusive Growth document was published and included the development and implementation of an Inclusive Growth City Charter for Belfast. Since then, a cross council team, led by Strategy, Policy and Partnerships had been progressing the development of this charter.


            The Director of City Regeneration and Development provided an update on progress to date and proposed key activities going forward and pointed out that the report had already been agreed by the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on 21st August, 2020.


            She advised that this work included the development of an Inclusive Growth City Charter for employers across the city – setting a city wide standard in relation to procurement, employment and civic / neighbourhood engagement.


            She informed the Committee that an initial employer workshop was held, in partnership with Allstate NI, in Jan 2020, with over 70 employers from a wide range of sectors represented. It had been agreed that a small working group would be convened with broad representation from this group, to help the Council shape and co-design the charter, however, although nominees had been received, the work was paused until May 2020 due to COVID-19.


            She informed the Committee that the first virtual working group was held in July and the meeting aims and outcomes were to:


·         Bring working group members together to co-design the charter;

·         Discuss and test emerging ideas, building on the January workshop, to scope the charter;

·         Agree the purpose and role of the working group; and

·         Agree high level actions and responsibilities for the next 3 months.


            She explained that, over the coming months the cross council team would complete: ADraft scoping note; Extensive engagement; Members Workshop; Public consultation and a Charter launch.


            In relation to the Inclusive Growth Network, hosted by the Centre for Progressive Policy and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Director of City Regeneration and Development advised that the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee had been invited to attend the virtual launch event of the Inclusive Growth Network (IGN) on 17th September.


The Committee:


·         Noted the progress to date in relation to the development of the charter and agreed to an elected members workshop / engagement following the initial developmental stages;


·         Noted the proposed key stages of work going forward to shape the council’s future ambitions with regard to the development and implementation of a city charter for Belfast; and


·         Noted the proposed attendance of the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee at the IGN virtual launch event.



Positioning Belfast to Compete


Cultural Strategy Update pdf icon PDF 370 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1          At a meeting of City Growth and Regeneration Committee in April 2020 the annual work programme to support year one of the ten-year cultural strategy for Belfast, A City Imagining was approved. Given the current circumstances and the specific ongoing challenges for the cultural sector, the purpose of this report is to update Members on:


-         The current status of the work programme relating to the delivery of the cultural strategy.

-         The current and projected impacts of Covid-19 on the cultural sector.

-         The initial response and emerging priorities to help stabilise and support cultural development in the city.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


-         Note the contents of this report and the contribution that the work programme for 2020/21 will make to supporting the recovery of the cultural sector.

-         Note the further detail supplied on specific projects within the overall programme and the breakdown and allocation of existing budget to specific projects as outlined at 3.27 and Appendix A.

-         Grant delegated authority to the Strategic Director of Place and the Economy to award grants up to a maximum of £20,000 following open and competitive processes in relation to specific projects within budgetary controls as outlined at 3.27 and in Appendix A.

-         Agree to make a submission to the Department for Communities on the impact of Covid-19 on the cultural sector including Council’s position on emerging priorities and response as set out in this paper.



3.0       Main report


            Members will be aware that at the August meeting of City Growth and Regeneration an update on tourism was presented with an agreement that a further update on cultural activity would be provided in September 2020.


3.2       A new ten-year cultural strategy for Belfast was approved by Council and became operational in April 2020 supported by a one-year work programme. The strategy was the culmination of extensive public and sector engagement. It recognised the need for long-term commitment over a decade in order to drive transformation. However, it also presented a dynamic model for change to ensure resilience to external factors and potential social, economic and environmental shifts. Consequently, while the full scale and impact of Covid-19 remains unknown and the level of structural change to the city’s overall and cultural ecosystems is uncertain, the strategy remains valid presenting a strong framework for any recovery plans.


3.3       Background


            A City Imagining provides a framework for the city’s transformation through cultural engagement and participation and supports wider council strategies such as the Belfast Agenda.  It is now critical that the implementation of the strategy recognises the impact of Covid-19 on the cultural sector, responds accordingly and plans for long-term stability. The strategic aims and projects contained within the strategy can now become vehicles for recovery if public and private sectors stakeholders work collectively to ensure that the sector is protected and supported whilst recognising the cultural dimension to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.


Strategic/Operational Issues


Organisation Recovery - Update on City Centre Public Toilet Opening pdf icon PDF 254 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee was provided with an overview of the status of the public conveniences in the City Centre that were provided by the Council in the midst of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.


            The Committee was informed that the Council provided a network of standard and automatic public conveniences (APCs) across the city and in line with many other Council services these facilities had closed in late March, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This action was taken to minimise the potential for transmission of the virus and in response to the Public health challenges.


            It was reported that, as part of the Council’s recovery plan for services, there had been a phased re-opening of these facilities in order to ensure a safe environment for staff and users. Five APCs opened on 1st July located at: Lombard Street, Custom House Square, Dublin Road, Gasworks and Waterworks.


            On 17th August, two standard public toilets in the city centre re-opened at Church Lane and Winetavern Street. On 1st September, the last of the city centre public toilets opened at Arthur Lane.  The final phase of service recovery involved those facilities at: Ormeau Embankment, Drumglass Park and Connswater. These were scheduled to re-open on 14th September.


            It was reported that City and Neighbourhood Services were currently looking at options to extend the opening hours of the APCs to 11 pm each night from 7th September and this would be kept under review should these facilities suffer from major abuse during the ‘out of hours’ periods.


            The Committee noted the information which had been provided in the report.



Additional Item


Promotion and Uptake of the Flu Jab


            In agreement with the Chairperson, Councillor Heading raised concerns in relation to the uptake of the Flu Jab and the impact of further sickness absence might have on the economy and City Centre recovery.  He suggested that the Council could help promote further uptake of the Flu Jab this winter through its communication tools. 


The Committee noted that the Director would share this suggestion with the City and Neighbourhood Services Department.