The Committee considered the undernoted report:
“1.0 Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues
1.1 The purpose of this report is to provide Members with an overview on the work programme of City Regeneration & Development for 2022 – 2023, and to seek approval to progress necessary procurement for key actions in 22/23 aligned to the priorities of this Committee as well as the wide strategic corporate objectives of the Belfast Agenda.
2.1 The Members of the Committee are asked to:
· Note the 2021 – 2022 progress across the regeneration and development activities aligned to the City Regeneration and Development Division.
· Agree the outlined activities for 2022 - 2023 as set out in the report including the budget implications as below being met from approved and existing departmental budget.
· Agree that necessary procurement processes (including the invitation of tenders and/or the use of appropriate framework arrangements) be initiated for any of the planned City Regeneration and Development activities for 22/23 as required and in line with the approved departmental budget.
3.1 The City Regeneration and Development Division are focused on supporting the priorities of this Committee which include:
· Enabling and shaping city regeneration, development and investment ensuring alignment across the Place and Economy Department and wider organisation, in order to deliver on the Council’s Strategic objectives for the physical and inclusive development of the city.
· Delivery of programmes and projects within Belfast City Centre Regeneration Investment Strategy (BCCRIS) and associated Masterplans together with other citywide regeneration activities, as aligned with the Belfast Agenda, Belfast: Our Recovery, Corporate Plan 2019 - 2023 and the Improvement Plan 2022 – 2023. With an understanding that underpinning the delivery of regeneration and development is the ability to attract investment to ensure a thriving city, maximising the regeneration impact to deliver on inclusive growth.
3.2 In 2021 – 2022, despite the challenges of the Pandemic, significant progress was made across regeneration and development in the city. Specifically, some key highlights in relation to the role of the City Regeneration and Development Division this included:
· Delivery of £4.039m DfC Covid-19 Revitalisation Programme including Business and Community Cluster Programme Grant across the city, active travel measures, new social and placemaking projects across the city, and notably the award-winning Belfast Entries programme
· Continuing to develop A Bolder Vision Strategy with DfC and DfI including the completion of the public consultation exercise. The Bolder Vision Strategy will provide a more holistic approach to infrastructure and major development investment, providing more of an onus on delivering transformative place-making and regeneration opportunities within our collective capital public and private investment plans, aligned to the principles and Key Moves of the Bolder Vision.
· The acquisition of the site for Belfast’s flagship BRCD project Belfast Stories which will be housed in one of Belfast’s most beloved heritage buildings, the art deco former Bank of Ireland building on Royal Avenue, along with the surrounding 4,000sq metres site.
· The acquisition of 2 Royal Avenue and working to develop long term and future uses collaboratively across Council for this listed heritage building, providing Council with a key opportunity to help address the challenges impacting on the city centre while protecting our heritage assets.
· Strategic Site Assessments (SSA) Phase 1 - city centre cluster sites including regeneration concept plans progression to PAD stage on a number of sites, and the completion of the initial EoI stage to attract Institutional Investment.
· SSA Phase 2 - City wide Strategic Site Assessments, including the establishment of a joint public sector housing group as the appropriate vehicle, chaired by the NIHE, to drive this forward through an agreed methodology. Continuing the comprehensive mapping of public sector assets in conjunction with partners, assessing these assets in line with the Urban Capacity Study and the Housing Monitor to identify and bring forward opportunities for Housing Led Regeneration.
· Developing a City Centre Living Vision through focused engagement with communities and other stakeholders to inform the City Centre Living Vision Document
· Leading the refreshed City Development Board, under the Community Planning Partnership; including supporting sub structures to work towards the finalisation of draft actions plans for each priority theme of:
- Housing Led Regeneration
- Future City Centre Programme
- Connectivity, Access, Active and Sustainable Travel
- City-Wide Development and Regeneration
· Securing £207,500 funding for active travel enabling infrastructure through DfI’s blue and green infrastructure fund to deliver secure and covered cycle stands and cycle repair stands.
· Securing additional funding for Belfast Entries Phase 2 and development of tactical regeneration programmes for the SW Quarter, the 5C’s and Castle Street area.
· Progressing design work on a number of public realm catalyst projects utilising developer contributions including the 5C’s, Little York / Little Patrick St and the North South Spine
· Providing civic leadership and regeneration advice including representation on various Programme/Project Boards) on a number of key city projects and programmes including, Belfast Rapid Transport Phase 2, BRCD, the Junctions Working Group, and Streets Ahead Programme Board as well as a number of major private/public sector developments including Weavers Cross, Waterside, Tribeca, and Queens Quay
· Vacant to Vibrant Programme: includes launch of an EoI to inform the viability of a £700k capital grant scheme to incentivise both property owners and potential occupiers to bring vacant spaces in Belfast city centre back into use and support the revitalisation of the city centre
· Working with public and private sector partners to position the city to compete and promote the city for inclusive investment. Including supporting the Renewed Ambition public and private partnership, focused on promotion, advocacy and engagement and research work on social, economic and environmental impact of real estate development.
4.0 Main Report
4.1 The focus of the Division in 2022 – 2023 is again aligned to the priorities and plan for this Committee as well as the wider strategic objectives for Council and themed across a number of programme pillars, below is a high-level outline of activities under these:
4.2 Future City Centre (FCC) Programme
· The FCC now forms an integral part of the CG&R Committee Plan and the Community Planning Partnership Board and provides a holistic oversight of the various priorities to ensure alignment and co-ordination and seeks to maximise the benefits of collective private and public sector investment across a number of strategic, cross-cutting activities /projects. These cross-cutting activities are aligned under the key pillars of the FCC Programme:
- Physical Regeneration and Connectivity
- Business & Investment
- City Centre Vitality
- Positioning the City to Compete
- Digital Innovation
- Clean Green & Safe.
The FCC includes programmes such as the Vacant to Vibrant scheme, Housing Led Regeneration, Strategic Acquisition of key assets, the Entries Programme, Tactical Regeneration, the Bolder Vision and Positioning the City to Compete.
· Undertaking a refresh of the overall FCC programme based on ongoing work across the pillars to ensure that the programme takes account of changing local and global situations.
· Launching and delivering the Vacant to Vibrant capital grant scheme
· Tactical Regeneration Programme feasibility, design and delivery focusing on the Grey to Green initiative, SW Quarter and 5C’s Tactical Regeneration projects as previously agreed by this Committee.
· £150k from approved and existing departmental budget will be allocated to further developing and delivering the FCC Tactical Regeneration Programme.
4.3 Housing Led Regeneration
· Finalise regeneration plans, PADs and all due diligence detail on Strategic Site Assessment Phase 1 cluster sites linked to the approach around attracting an institutional investor / development partner to bring forward housing led regeneration across SSA Phase 1 Council assets and, where appropriate, together with other public sector partners (DfC, NIHE, DfI) and private sector landholdings.
· Finalise the City Centre Living Vision that will support progression of residential development aspirations for the city centre, to include engagement with relevant stakeholders and progressing recommendations as appropriate.
· Continue with work to procure an institutional investor/development partner to progress Council’s housing led regeneration ambitions.
· Continuing to bring forward the Strategic Site Assessment Phase 2 city wide work via the CPP City Development Board and its substructure (Housing Led Regeneration Group) chaired by the NIHE. Finalise the extensive cross public sector mapping exercise (including LPS, DfC, NIHE) to assess landholdings identified within LDP’s Urban Capacity Study and the Housing Monitor, identifying and assessing a refined list of opportunities for Housing Led Regeneration
· Analysis of public sector assets, alongside existing private sector opportunities (including key city developments) to identify barriers to delivery and potential mechanisms for unlocking, aimed at maximising opportunities and ensuring prioritisation of funding/delivery through the appropriate delivery agent.
· Progress the Inner North West Development Brief to deliver housing led regeneration by addressing barriers to unlock delivery of mixed tenure residential development.
4.4 Connectivity, Active Travel and City Infrastructure
· Finalise the Bolder Vision Strategy and Action Plan with partners in DfI and DfC; establish an integrated working approach with partners through an MoU Partnership approach and prioritise funding approaches for feasibility and delivery of the priority projects emerging from the Bolder Vision Work. £200k from approved and existing departmental budget will be allocated to developing up the Bolder Vision Action Plan suite of projects.
· Continue to provide civic leadership and direction to enable the timely delivery of capital connectivity, active travel and city infrastructure projects.
· Develop and oversee an overarching city-wide programme to co-ordinate Council’s approach (inc partnership working) to connectivity and active travel aligned to the Corporate priority on Connectivity & Active Travel and as part of the CPP City Development Board priority.
· Further develop the Belfast Urban Greenway in conjunction with the DfI Cycle Network and seek funding for delivery and further development and delivery of sustainable travel initiatives.
· Work collaboratively with DfI in relation to the Belfast Metropolitan Transport Plan, and the Belfast Cycle Network
4.5 City Development and Investment
· Develop a Regeneration Programme Framework for key regeneration projects including partnership projects at a citywide level; to include preparation of feasibility studies and business cases as appropriate. To include regeneration projects to support development and investment for Bolder Vision and housing / mixed uses regeneration projects.
· Identification of barriers preventing investment to key city regeneration and developing approaches, with partners as appropriate, to de-risk, unlock and support bringing forward development proposals.
· Undertake a review and purpose of the City Centre Investment Fund to align with delivery of city development aspirations.
· Developing long term uses and attracting funding for 2 Royal Avenue
· Complete assembly of optimal site for development of Belfast Stories project
· Delivering the Vacant to Vibrant Grant Programme to address the rising level of ground floor vacancy within the city centre
· Overseeing the delivery of the streetscape environmental improvements of the city-wide Supporting Vibrant Business Destinations in conjunction with Officers from across the P&E Department
· Working across Council and via the Community Planning process to progress a joined-up approach to city wide regeneration and development priorities on a place based approach involving communities and wider city partners.
· Undertake a review of the priorities /projects within the Belfast City Centre Regeneration & Investment Strategy and progress /oversee those where Council is the lead partner.
· Chair and driving forward the regeneration work programme of the UU Community Campus Regeneration Forum.
· Continue to provide civic leadership regeneration advice, including representation on Programme / Project Boards, on key city infrastructure and regeneration projects (public and private).
4.6 Positioning the City to Compete
· Continuing to positively position Belfast globally as an attractive investment location through targeted marketing and communication interventions to support the delivery of regeneration projects across the city and inclusive sustainable growth, aligning to city recovery plans, Belfast Region City Deal, Reset for Growth, Net Zero and Innovation City Belfast ambitions.
· Support the Renewed Ambition public private partnership and the various elements of that work programme as previously reported to Committee.
· Refreshing the Invest in Belfast website to ensure the city is positioned to attract investment including across real estate development, Innovation and Green Growth sectors.
· Developing a CRM system to manage the database of investment and development contacts.
· Continue to deliver the strategic physical / real estate investment and marketing programme for the city including the implementation of a cohesive city and investment narrative.
· Launching the Building Impact Report which examines the role the built environment /real estate plays in delivering Social, Economic and Environmental benefits to Belfast and the wider Belfast City Region, including the development of a targeted action plan to support the implementation of the report recommendations to deliver enhanced social and environmental benefits.
4.7 It is also worth highlighting that as well as the above outlined activities the Division align significant officer resource to driving and facilitating regeneration and development opportunities through various city level fora, including community engagement. Specifically, this involves working with city partners including anchor institutions, public and private sectors, developers, communities and umbrella organisations to bring forward and maximise the regeneration potential of development projects as aligned to corporate and city priorities e.g. facilitating / representing Council at reference groups / board members including, Weavers Cross, Waterside, Tribeca, Belfast Stories, High Street Task Force, Housing Supply Strategy Programme etc. This role of advocacy and influencing whilst difficult to measure is critical to shaping the future development of the city aligned to our strategic policy and growth ambitions of the Belfast Agenda, LDP and BCCRIS.
4.8 The Division will also continue to complete the existing Covid-19 Revitalisation Programme in line with the agreed projects and timelines and continue to develop projects to feasibility stage to attract further funding for catalyst opportunities across the city.
4.9 Members are also asked to agree that necessary procurement processes (including the invitation of tenders and/or the use of appropriate framework arrangements) be initiated for any of the planned City Regeneration and Development activities including externally funded projects for 22/23 as required.
5.0 Finance and Resource Implications
5.1 The activities and allocation budget to these activities in this report will be resourced from the approved 2022 – 2023 budget for City Regeneration and Development and with tenders/contracts to be awarded in line with this.
6.0 Equality or Good Relations Implications/
Rural Needs Assessment
6.1 Specific projects if not already screened will be subject to equality screening.”
· Noted the 2021–2022 progress across the regeneration and development activities aligned to the City Regeneration and Development Division;
· Agreed the activities for 2022-2023, which included the budget implications being met from approved and existing departmental budgets; and
· Agreed that necessary procurement processes would be initiated for any of the planned City Regeneration and Development activities for 2022/23, as required, in line with the approved departmental budgets.