The Committee considered the following report:
“1.0 Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues
1.1 To update the Committee on progress on the development of a Belfast Region City Deal, including the proposed geographic area, overall objective and key themes.
2.1 The Committee is asked to approve:
· the proposed geography for the Belfast City Region Deal as set out in the report;
· the overall objective of ‘more and better jobs; inclusive growth; improved skills and and growth of domestic business and FDI’;
· the key themes of Infrastructure, Innovation and Skills; and
· £15,000 to contribute to a joint, co-funded, pre-feasibility study with Louth and Newry and Mourne Councils and ARUP on a Belfast Dublin fast rail link.
3.0 Main report
3.1 At its meeting in June, members were updated on the proposals to progress a Belfast Region City Deal which included the timeline for the delivery of a full feasibility study, including the development of a detailed evidence base setting out the rationale and benefits of a City Deal.
3.2 Progress on this was discussed with the Committee at its workshop on 6th September 2017 with specific detail provided on the proposed geographic area and the overall objective for the City Deal and its role in the achievement of the key commitments in the Belfast Agenda.
The Belfast Region Geography
3.3 A ‘city deal’ is not just for a city but is designed to drive investment and growth across a much wider region and ensure that as large a population as possible feels the benefits of increased investment and employment.
3.4 A principle of UK City Deals is that the proposed geography should be the ‘largest geography consistent with economic geography and effective governance’. The proposed geography for the ‘Belfast Region’ takes in the Belfast Travel to Work Area, extended out to each of the local authority boundaries.
3.5 Based on this travel to work area the current proposed geography includes;
· Belfast City Council;
· Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council;
· Ards & North Down Borough Council;
· Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council;
· Mid & East Antrim Borough Council; and
· Newry, Mourne & Down District Council.
3.6 A geographic spread of benefits will be core to the deal. As in other City Region Deals – all areas will see an uplift in increased access to jobs – and mechanisms will be used to ensure a spread across the Region.
Belfast Region City Deal Overall Objective
3.7 Inclusive Growth is at the heart of the Belfast Agenda and is about more and better jobs, improving living standards and earnings, offering in work progression and challenging barriers to employment such as child care, transport and training. Given that the City Deal is a key mechanism for delivering the ambitious agenda set out in the Belfast Agenda it is important that we develop a City Deal which puts ‘Inclusive Growth’ at its core, increasing prosperity for the city region, driving forward regional growth and providing wider social and environmental benefits.
3.8 The proposed overarching objective for the city deal is
‘more and better jobs; inclusive growth; improved skills and and growth of domestic business and FDI’
3.9 This re-enforces and supports the Belfast Agenda and will help deliver against the key priorities agreed in the plan.
Belfast Region City Deal – Key themes
3.10 In order to deliver against our objective a ‘Cohesive’ Programme of investment being considered for a Belfast Region City Deal comprises three main themes:
· infrastructure, innovation and skills.
3.11 The infrastructure theme comprises ‘economic infrastructure’ which could include:
· Transport infrastructure;Regeneration;Tourism projects; andDigital infrastructure.
3.12 Innovation builds on our key sectoral growth areas and may include for exampleCentres of Excellence at FE/HE Colleges which allow local economies and industries to compete in a global market.
Skills - A central part of the Belfast Region City Deal will be to
ensure that alongside the programme of
capital investment, parallel action is taken on employability and
skills programmes to ensure that people
are ready to take up the specific additional
Collectively addressing skills deficits will deliver stronger, more inclusive and more resilient economic outcomes which will provide sustainable solutions to the social challenges faced by the Belfast Region.
3.15 Work will continue on the detailed feasibility study including the identification of proposed projects, governance structures, performance metrics and financial modelling to further develop the Deal. This will include intensive engagement with:
· Belfast City-Region Councillors and officers
· NI Assembly representatives
· Northern Ireland Office
· Taoiseach’s Office/Department for Foreign Affairs
· Business sector including large businesses and representative bodies
· Innovation sector including universities, further education and innovation hubs
· City stakeholders such as the Belfast Harbour Commission
· NI Civil Service departments notably Department for Infrastructure; Department for the Economy and Department for Finance
3.16 It is also proposed that Council contributes to a joint, co-funded, pre-feasibility study with Louth and Newry and Mourne Councils and ARUP on a Belfast Dublin fast rail link.
3.17 Committee should note that the first joint workshop for elected members from the Belfast City Region Deal Councils is scheduled for 28th September 2017. Party Group Briefings will also be held on the next steps including possible projects.
3.18 Financial and Resource Implications
£15,000 to contribute to a joint, co-funded, pre-feasibility study with Louth and Newry and Mourne Councils and ARUP on a Belfast Dublin fast rail link from within existing budgets.
Further financing may be required to progress the City Region Growth Deal in particular the development of business cases associated with specific projects. This will be considered as part of the half year finance report.
3.19 Equality or Good Relations Implications
To be considered in preparation of City Region Growth Deal.”
The Committee adopted the recommendations.