The Committee was provided with an update on the responses which had been received to recent letters that had been sent to Ministers at the request of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee.
The Strategic Director of Economy and Place highlighted the following points:
York Street Interchange (YSI)
The Council had received a response from the Minister for Infrastructure (Appendix 1) indicating that the review was now complete and that the Minister was currently considering the findings. The Minister went on to promote a collaborative approach between the Department and the Council in terms of the future development of the York St. Interchange Scheme and other infrastructure solutions in line with the City Centre Connectivity Study.
Covid-19 Revitalisation Programme: Connectivity Related Projects
The Council had received a response from the Minister for Infrastructure and the Minister for Communities (Appendix 2 and 3) outlining the £19.3m of urgent funding to Councils to prepare town and city centres to reopen safely. The Ministers also reiterated the departmental commitment to providing assistance, support and partnership working in delivering the programme of works.
Public Realm Schemes at Shankill Gateway and Fredrick Street
The Council had received a response from both the Minister for Communities and the Minister for Infrastructure (Appendix 5 and 6). These responses refer to the ongoing work of the joint Junctions Stakeholder Group to review the designs with the Minister for Infrastructure stating that ‘officials would work at pace to bring forward proposals for alternative junction layouts that would better reflect the priority that we all agree needs to be given to public transport, pedestrians and cyclists’ with a further update to be provided to the Council in due course.
Increasing Sustainable Transport in Belfast
The Council had received a response from the Infrastructure Ministers office (Appendix 8) which confirmed the Departments commitment to creating more opportunities for active travel and making our roads safer for those who walk, wheel and cycle. The Minister referenced the importance of reimaging our city and town centres with a focus on making them greener, more walkable and more connected with commitments from the Department including the establishment of a Walking and Cycling Champion, a £20m capital funding for Blue and Green Infrastructure, progression of two key sustainable transport projects in the BRT Phase 2 and the Ormeau Road Lagan Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge, and the pending publication of the final Belfast Bike Network.
During discussion, the Senior Development Manager advised that the designs in relation to the Shankill Gateway would be submitted to the Committee once they had been received by the Department.
In response to a Members question in relation to the lack of information provided in the letter to the Department for Infrastructure, and the response received, regarding Increasing Sustainable Transport in Belfast, the Strategic Director of Economy and Place advised that the letter for DfI had been sent following an amendment to the minutes at Council, however, feedback would be provided to Democratic Services on the issue.
The Committee noted the responses which had been received in relation to letters which the Council had issued regarding connectivity related matters as follows:
I.York Street Interchange;
II.Covid 19 Revitalisation Programme: Connectivity Projects;
III.Public Realm Schemes at Shankill Gateway and Fredrick Street; and
IV.Increasing Sustainable Transport in Belfast.