The Committee considered the undernoted report:
“1.0 Purpose of Report or Summary of Main Issues
1.1 This paper provides a six month progress update on the key actions contained in the City Growth and Regeneration (CG&R) Committee Plan, as agreed by this Committee in June 2021.
1.2 The 2021-2022 Committee Plan was developed in the context of the Council’s Corporate Plan and the Belfast Agenda. The Committee will recall that the Committee Plan contains the commitments within the 2021-22 annual delivery plan for the Corporate Plan which fall under the remit of the Committee, plus additional deliverables that have been agreed by CG&R Committee and relevant to the Standing Orders of the Committee. It sets out the main priorities and programmes of work that the Committee is overseeing to maximise the Council’s contribution to delivering a sustainable and inclusive recovery and the Belfast Agenda.
2.1 The Committee is asked to:
- note the content of the report and that officers are continuing to progress the actions within the City Growth and Regeneration Committee Plan 2021-2022, as agreed by the Committee in June 2021.
3.0 Main Report
3.1 Whilst the City Growth & Regeneration Committee have a role to play across a number of the themes, the clear focus for this Committee is City Recovery, immediate emergency response and reopening etc whilst also continuing with work to deliver on longer term plans for the city, with key priorities that will help the people and businesses of Belfast continue to respond to, and recover from, the economic impact of the pandemic while also shaping the future development and sustainability of the city.
3.2 In addition to the ongoing work to support the Community Planning Partnership, through the refreshed Jobs, Skills and Education Board and the City Development Board, this year the Committee has held a number of engagement and workshop sessions to enable strategic discussions to shape the Council’s role and position on key issues such as the future of the city and role of the city centre and the DfC Employability NI programme, which has led to the establishment of the interim Labour Market Partnership. In addition to this there is regular and ongoing engagement with the City Stakeholder Group and a multi agency approach to city recovery measures etc.
3.3 The Committee receive regular updates on progress with the delivery of specific programmes and initiatives such as; the DfC COVID19 Revitalisation Fund, Future City Centre programme, A Bolder Vision and A City Imagining Cultural Strategy. At the October 2021 meeting, the Committee also received detailed reports on the progress in relation to the Jobs and Skills work programme and the Business Support Services programme.
3.4 This report therefore provides a composite overview. Appendix 1 outlines progress with the main commitments in the Committee Plan for the six month period (April-September 2021). It should be noted that many of the commitments will continue to be delivered over the course of the year and the Committee will be kept informed of progress. However, some examples of the progress delivered against the corporate themes of Our city - safe, vibrant, connected spaces and places, inclusive economic recovery and community recovery in the first six months of the 2021-22 are provided below.
3.5 To support city recovery, the Business Cluster and Community Capital Grants scheme is virtually complete, with 33 applicants obtaining grants across the city. The DfC funding of £759k has now been spent in full. A further £450k from BCC was also made available to assist 18 other groups. The Local Business Interventions fund closed for claims on 25th June, assisting 445 businesses.
3.6 Work to support inclusive growth and recovery through employment initiatives over the last six months, a total of 427 people enrolled on Employment Academy programmes, across a range of sectors. 176 have completed their programme and 141 have secured employment so far. Additionally, via our Youth Support Programme, has supported 186 young people who have, or are at risk of, dropping out of education, employment or training. To date, 109 young people have progressed into positive outcomes. Officers continue to work with partners to develop employment pathways to emerging growth sectors within the technology and green sectors.
3.7 The Committee has also noted that business start-up support has helped 306 individuals to develop 200 business plans, creating an estimated 120 jobs. Support has been provided to 40 Social Enterprise and Cooperative organisations, 4 of which were Cooperatives. With a focus now on cooperatives, six outreach events for 120 attendees are being progressed. Committee agreed in October to accessing funding to support the delivery of area-based support for local business associations to increase vibrancy and drive footfall in anticipation of a go-live date in early November 2021.
3.8 Following Committee approval in September 2021, work is underway on two significant 12 week public consultation exercises to inform (i) the next phase of A Bolder Vision city centre connectivity study, which has been developed jointly between Council, Department for Communities and Department for Infrastructure. The Consultation will seek the views of consultees on a number of identified proposed ‘Key Moves’ to deliver radial change, as well as other potential short, medium and long term interventions and (ii) the 10 year Tourism Plan, Make Yourself at Home.
3.9 Delivering on the Belfast City Centre Regeneration & Investment Strategy (BCCRIS) and associated masterplans remains a priority. This includes the Inner North West, with the publication of the Masterplan and action plan; progressing with a programme of work around Housing Led Regeneration which includes the city centre strategic site assessments to facilitate city centre living through the strategic use of public sector city centre land assets. The strategic sites include the Inner North West – Northern Cluster, with a development brief agreed with DfC and issued, aimed at achieving the delivery of a residential led mixed-tenure, mixed-use scheme with a focus on place-making development. The Inner North West – Southern Cluster is progressing with a concept regeneration plan seeking to maximise the regeneration potential of this significant area of the city centre, strategically located in close proximity to the core retail area, the new university, the site of the new Destination Hub and existing residential communities. Dunbar Cluster, master planning exercise in underway to maximise the place-making potential arising from the comprehensive redevelopment of a number of co-located sites. Exchange St / Corporation St; Gloucester Street and Ormeau Avenue, planning assessments all complete and progressing with concept making plans at Ormeau Avenue. In addition to the ambitious programme of work within the city centre, a city wide approach has been taken to the strategic site assessments. Officers are working collaboratively with a number of other public sector bodies in the mapping and identification of public sector lands for housing. This includes the establishment of a Housing Led Regeneration Sub Delivery Group within the Community Planning structures of the City Development Board, chaired by NIHE Chief Executive to over see a detailed programme of work which will bring together the various strands of work undertaken by a number of pubic bodies in relation to the mapping and identification of public lands for housing led regeneration. Work is progressing on the development of a City Centre Living Vision aimed at bringing forward housing development at scale; completing Phase 1 of the Entries Programme with Phase 2 underway and ongoing work with key partners and stakeholders on major regeneration and infrastructure schemes in the city such as Transport Hub/Weavers Cross, Ulster University campus and BRT Phase 2.
3.10 As noted by Committee in August, the Council’s strategic acquisition of a city centre site marked a significant step in the Council’s regeneration role in shaping the future of the city centre and the diversification of uses. Further updates on this and strategic proposals for the city centre will be brought to Committee for consideration.
3.11 Support for the Belfast Region City Deal continues, in particular the Belfast Destination Hub, with a decision due in the next month. This will signal further opportunities for the regeneration and future of the city centre as well as being a key strategic asset for the delivery of the 10 year A City Imagining Cultural Strategy and draft 10 Year Tourism Plan.
3.12 Partnerships are key to delivering on the City’s strategic ambitions. The joint public / private sector Renewed Ambition Programme is continuing at pace focusing on maximising the impact of the joint partnership for developing regeneration, infrastructure and a modern built environment for the City of Belfast. Work is ongoing to complete the Social, Economic and Environmental Impact of Real Estate and Regeneration Investment Research.
3.13 Financial and Resource Implications
Progress is in line with the agreed Committee Plan, annual work plans and associated Departmental budgets.
3.14 Equality or Good Relations Implications /
Rural Needs Assessment
Strategies, programmes and actions within the Committee Plan are developed and delivered in consultation with the Council’s Equality & Diversity Officers and subject to appropriate equality, good relations and rural needs assessment.”
In response to a query from Councillor O’Hara regarding an update on a previous Notice of Motion in relation to Air Passenger Duty, the Strategic Director of Place and Economy stated that he would provide an update to a future meeting of the Committee.
The Committee noted the content of the report and that officers were continuing to progress the actions within the City Growth and Regeneration Committee Plan 2021-2022, as agreed by the Committee at its meeting in June, 2021.