Contact: Eilish McGoldrick, Democratic Services Officer
Apologies for the inability to attend were reported on behalf of Councillors Howard and T. Kelly.
Declarations of Interest
No Declarations of Interest were reported.
· Professor Duncan Morrow, Director of Community Engagement
The Strategic Director of Place and Economy welcomed to the meeting Professor D. Morrow, Director of Community Engagement at Ulster University. He then outlined the support that the Council had provided to the development of the new University Campus to date, and provided detail about a number of forums that staff continued to take part in.
Prof. Morrow provided a detailed presentation on the Belfast City Campus build, the most significant regeneration project in the City for many decades, which was scheduled to open in September, 2021. He noted, however, that Covid-19 regulations were likely to have an impact on the level of utilisation that would be possible.
The Committee was provided with details of the building design and faculty layout, as well as its positioning in the north city centre.
Prof. Morrow explained that the campus was in the heart of the city, neighbouring many of Northern Ireland’s most deprived Super Output Areas and Neighbourhood Renewal Areas. He suggested that engagement with local communities had to be creative, meaningful and long term in nature.
He stated that the University site could be seen as a connector point with many key attractions and historical buildings within its half mile radius. He also advised that the arrival of the University had the potential to reconnect historical buildings, referencing the ‘Great Place North Belfast’ initiative which had been supported by Lottery funding in order to create community based assets which would enliven the whole area alongside existing attractions.
He then highlighted the main changes that could be expected as a result of the development:
1. Demographic Change: 16,000 new stakeholders in the community with over 7,000 people expected on site on a daily basis during term-time;
2. Physical Regeneration: After years of dereliction and neglect, North City Centre was expected to become a core economic driver for Belfast and Northern Ireland;
3. Economic Opportunity: Based on the normal Universities UK multiplier of 1:5, an investment of £300m should result in an economic expansion of £1.5bn per year through innovation, start-up services, the night time economy, retail, and visitor numbers;
4. Social Change: Change to class, income, age, religion and ethnicity profile of the city centre would make a vacant space more vibrant and multi-cultural;
5. Environmental: Opportunities through regeneration and construction, but challenges with additional traffic, planning considerations therefore remained key.
6. Cultural Development: A potential driver for culture as a ‘Shared Space’ venue and as a result of a network of people living in the city centre.
7. Connectivity: A junction to other areas of the city, encouraging Active Travel and reconnecting walking and cycle routes, however many transport considerations were outstanding.
In relation to social clauses at a construction level, he explained that they had over-delivered with the help of the Department for Communities, with an equivalent of 93 years’ worth of training, placement and apprenticeship opportunities to young people, students and the long term unemployed. He also advised that social clauses would be built into service contracts, ... view the full minutes text for item 2a