The Chairperson introduced representatives from Translink and Weavers Cross to the meeting: Mr. S. Wilson, Mr. L. McCombe, Mr D. McAllister, Mr. B. Gallagher and Ms. H. Harrison, to provide an update on the Belfast Transport Hub at Weavers Cross.
Representatives provided an overview of building works, together with estimated timeline of completion stages and advised that the main works had been contracted over the next four years with anticipated completion for Summer 2024.
Mr. McAllister explained the social value activities and metrics, such as partnership working with the Council to deliver job opportunities.
Mr. Wilson described the social, economic and environmental benefits of the scheme which included:
· 8,000+ FTE Jobs in Grade A offices with FDI potential;
· 30%+ uplift in property values and rates;
· 20m+per annum public transport passenger footfall with all island connectivity;
· £25m urban renewal investment;
· 20 acre brownfield site regeneration;
· Zero emission public transport by 2040; and
· 20,000+ tonnes per year reduction in GHG emissions.
Ms Harrison provided an update on the current planning stages of the scheme and impending consultations.
Mr. McAllister advised how the development would promote environmental sustainability by a new high quality sustainable connected neighbourhood centred around the Belfast Transport Hub, delivering sustainable mobility with the City Centre. He stated that the ambition was to reduce dependency on private cars and fossil fuel consumption by encouraging modal shift.
Mr. McCombe described how part of the development, Saltwater Square, was intended to be an active space and clarified how it would link to other parts of the city.
During discussion, the representatives explained further the Carbon Footprint of Construction and sustainable construction targets and techniques, in particular in relation to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announcements on global warming.
Members of the Committee also raised queries on the streetscaping, cycling and walking paths, changes to existing road layouts and segregation of cycle paths.
One Member suggested that the Weavers Cross team prioritise active travel users and continue to liaise with the Department for Infrastructure to ensure safe and sustainable transport provision around the proposed development.
In relation to a query on Translink’s Bikes on Trains Policy, representatives noted that they would get back to the Committee with an update in due course.
The Chairperson thanked the representatives for their presentation and they retired from the meeting.
The Strategic Director drew Members attention to the report that accompanied the presentation and its recommendations.
After discussion, the Members of the Committee recommended that, in accordance with the Council decision of 4th May, the Chief Executive exercise her delegated authority to note:
· The information provided in Translink’s presentation in relation to the Belfast Transport Hub and the wider Weavers Cross regeneration scheme and ;
· In line with the Committee’s approval in November 2019, the Council’s Hope Street carpark facility is included in Translink’s Weavers Cross master planning considerations and the site has been conditionally included in their marketing collateral seeking a master-developer partner with the financial means and relevant experience, skills and resources to realise the vision for Weavers Cross; and
· That a further report would be brought to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee in the near future on the detail of any subsequent land /development proposal and associated financial offer and, subject to Members’ endorsement, for inclusion of the Hope Street carpark facility in any formal development agreement with Translink’s nominated developer partner.