Investment Programme

220513WC1_187 Former Chair of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, Councillor Deirdre Hargey outlined Belfast City Council’s £150 million Investment Programme. With all-party support, the programme aims to “stimulate the local economy, improve quality of life and provide opportunities for all.”

In an ambitious Investment Programme leading up to 2015, Belfast City Council is providing £150 million for capital projects to benefit the whole city and local neighbourhoods. The programme was launched by the First Minister and deputy First Minister in February 2012.

Councillor Deirdre Hargey, now Chair of the Development Committee, who are leading on a number of Investment Programme projects, explained that the programme is “underpinned by a commitment to leadership, partnership working and making a difference to local communities.” It was “no mean feat” to bring all the council’s political parties together to sign one document for the first time.

“Belfast has witnessed world class investment in the recent past which has yielded dividends in terms of visitor numbers and international profile,” Hargey added. “There is much to build on and the bar has been raised in terms of motivation and expectation.”

City leadership, in her view, is about “articulating aspiration and hope” but it also needs to turn words into actions. World class events such as the Tall Ships and the MTV Europe Music Awards provided clear examples of successful delivery.

“Collaborative leadership and partnership makes this happen,” she stated. “We need to be bold and take the opportunity and ask ourselves: ‘What else is possible for our great city?’”

All sectors needed to start from “a shared desire to see Belfast succeed.” Hargey remarked: “By working together, we can make a greater difference and help each other in the targets that we want to achieve collectively.”

Local government reform and new local planning powers will “open up real opportunities for the city” and encourage more joined-up working. The council will have the power to draw up a city-wide local development plan backed up by neighbourhood development plans.

“My hope today,” Hargey told delegates, “is to start a real and sustained process of developing a meaningful vision and plan for Belfast.”

First year achievements
• £1.26 million allocated to local regeneration projects

• Refurbishment of Mary Peters Athletics Track, in time for World Police and Fire Games

• New world-class mountain bike trails at Barnett Demesne

• Delivered 174 permanent and 97 temporary jobs, more than 200 work placements and 10 apprenticeships

• Pre-employment support programme for the unemployed, resulting in five full-time appointments

Ongoing projects

• Funding bids submitted for Springvale Innovation Centre and Belfast Waterfront extension

• Plans for green economy park at North Foreshore and a digital ‘hub’

• Renovation of 250 derelict and dilapidated buildings (with support from DoE)

• Refurbishment of Dunville and Woodvale Parks

• Investing £3 million in community projects, plus playground refurbishments and alley-gating schemes

Sinn Féin
Jim McVeigh

Belfast is probably going through one of the worst economic crises in the history of this city and we believe as councillors (and as a council) we have a responsibility to play our part in helping to regenerate the economy, to support businesses and, most importantly, to create jobs for our citizens across the city.

DUP
Lee Reynolds

This Investment Programme is our collective response to an unprecedented situation. We’ve been faced with the largest economic downturn that any of us can remember. It needed the parties to come together and it needed us to act so the council is seeking to drive our economy, create jobs and help the most vulnerable communities through the most difficult of times.

SDLP
Tim Attwood

The unique thing about the Investment Programme last year was that we got all-party support in council for a £150 million investment across the city. This year, we got support for a 0 per cent rate increase which means that, in real terms, we’re cutting the rates by 2.7 per cent.

UUP
David Browne

Fifteen years ago we discussed wether we would build the Waterfront Hall. If you look at the area now it has been completely regenerated, it’s an absolutely marvellous project. The council’s investment in the city can bring about real improvement.

Alliance
Maire Hendron

This Investment Programme is being delivered at no extra cost to ratepayers and with no reduction in the quality of our services. Part of it has been secured through efficiencies achieved during the past few years, amounting to £16 million.

PUP
John Kyle

The Investment Programme is about some very exciting capital projects but it’s also about supporting and strengthening local communities. We’ve a grant-aid programme to work with communities, to help them develop the communities where they are living, to make them a better place to be, a better place to grow up in, a better place to live.

External views

John Armstrong
Construction Employers Federation

If we look around the world at other jurisdictions, in time of economic recession and downturn the way they’ve got out of that is to invest in construction activity. Belfast City Council has been leading the way in this. They launched this investment programme a year ago which was hugely welcomed at the time, not just by my industry but by the broader business community, and I’m delighted that a year on, significant move over progress has been made on this.

Peter Bunting
Irish Congress of Trade Unions

I’m delighted to see that it has lived up to what was stated on the tin. It has delivered and it’s certainly a wonderful example for the rest of the district councils throughout Northern Ireland to promote and develop their own investment programmes, similar to Belfast City Council, which will make an improvement for those who are seeking job opportunities.

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