Belfast is on the cusp of an exciting new era of growth with developers, investors and businesses all ready to play their part.
That was the message today (Tuesday 22 September) as Belfast City Council launched its City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy at its ‘Belfast: Future City – making it real’ event at the Belfast Waterfront.
The council aims to transform the city by creating more jobs, increasing the population, attracting new retail offerings, and further developing the burgeoning tourism industry. It will also support innovation and learning, develop city centre green areas for cyclists and walkers, connect outlying areas to the centre and enhance shared spaces.
Today’s event took place at the Belfast Waterfront which is undergoing a £30 million facelift to include conference and exhibition facilities.
It is just one of a number of major development projects worth £400 million in which the council is currently involved and contributes to the £1 billion of current and planned investment already in place across the city.
Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Guy Spence, pointed out that a new era was beckoning for Belfast and urged private and public sector partners to play their part in ensuring the economic success of Belfast, which will drive growth across Northern Ireland.
“With the new powers that have come our way with local government reform – land use planning, community planning, regeneration, increased tourism powers – we now have the opportunity to build on current successes
“But we need to work in partnership with developers, business people, entrepreneurs and government agencies to deliver. We, as a council, can become the enablers, to make it easier for developers to develop, businesses to do business, for people to work live and play here. We all have a part to play.
“The City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy is significant as it is the result of an extensive consultation process during the past year. It will shape the development of the core of our city during the next 10-15 years.”
The council also unveiled an £18.7 million City Centre Investment Fund.
It allows the council to support projects brought forward by others that will impact on the city centre economy. The support will be flexible and innovative and options could include providing part loan financing for projects or acquiring properties or sites for development.
The strategy unveiled today follows on from the council £150 million investment programme that got underway in 2012. It has delivered or is in the process of delivering around £300 million worth of projects – twice as much as originally planned – with financial support from central Government and European funding.
The council investment is part of £1 billion currently being invested across the city including Ulster University’s relocation, City Quays, Belfast Rapid Transit, York Street Interchange, Titanic Quarter, Belfast Streets Ahead and the Strategic Drainage Infrastructure programme.
Included in the council’s investment is the Belfast Waterfront exhibition and conference centre which is already paying dividends with major international conferences secured and a number of planning applications being considered for hotel developments.
Other major council projects currently being delivered include the Girdwood Community Hub, the Forthriver Innovation Centre, Connswater Community Greenway, new council office accommodation at Adelaide Street, as well as investment in the city’s digital infrastructure, leisure transformation and local schemes such as pitches and play parks.