The Council marks a year of operations and looks to strategy and service provision for its ratepayers.
During the council’s first year there has been a focus on consolidating services, looking to future growth and industry; and strategic planning for the continued development of the area.
In line with the council’s community planning responsibilities; a strategic community planning partnership has been established which will look to the well-being of citizens, area need and requirements and joined-up services. Statutory partners include the PSNI, health, education and tourism sectors and housing providers.
The council held its first community planning conference last September and explored socio-economic areas, health and housing, leisure provision, justice, the environment, transport issues and the necessity of partnership working for the betterment of the area. The council is currently compiling feedback on all its community consultation carried out to date. This information will be provided to residents, with continued programme updates made available as the community plan develops.
Customer focus has seen the development of customer services guidelines in early 2016, which set out the council’s commitment to working with, responding to and servicing its ratepayer base. A new customer care system is in place so that all queries can be tracked and managed in accordance with the guidelines.
Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council is now responsible for the administration of Citizenship ceremonies in Northern Ireland. This responsibility has been transferred from the Northern Ireland Office to the council. Citizenship ceremonies will take place following approval of British citizenship applications by UK Visas and Immigration. A number of Citizenship ceremonies have taken place already in Hillsborough Castle.
The Tourism Master Plan for Hillsborough village, developed in 2015, will see the council maximise opportunities for an enhanced tourist product in Hillsborough, complimenting Hillsborough Castle’s refurbishment plans for its castle and surrounding grounds. This £16 million investment will attract 200,000 visitors by 2019/20. The council will look to maximise economic development returns for the area in line with this work as well as environmental improvements. Lisburn’s Public Realm Scheme was completed in 2015, and the new and enhanced landscape in the city centre has a dedicated events space, new seating and artworks.
A dedicated business solutions website is in place which provides information on new business start-ups, investment opportunities, skills and support and tailored business support. New initiatives encourage stakeholder engagement. The council continues to assist the business community, including on-going discussion of challenges and the key issues facing local companies. Tailored business events are in place in order to help and assist local businesses and build partnerships.
A number of ministerial meetings with council representatives have taken place around strategic planning areas. One of the key issues for the area is the development of the road infrastructure of the Knockmore M1 Link Road. The M1/Knockmore Link Road is a missing link in the road network around Lisburn and the council is looking to future growth in the city in line with its planning powers.
This new road will provide major development opportunities and jobs for new commercial and residential areas in west Lisburn. Independent economic forecasts suggest that within four years the Blaris, Knockmore and Maze Long Kesh plan zonings will create or sustain upwards of 4,000 jobs involving 101 acres of development land. The west Lisburn Development Framework includes lands at Maze Long Kesh, Blaris, Knockmore, Lissue and at the popular Sprucefield site.
The council took part in the 2015 MIPIM business conference in London and showcased the potential of the area to the 2,500 representatives in attendance for investment opportunities. This follows a networking event held at the Houses of Parliament last year. There has also been an increase in the number of local Lisburn and Castlereagh companies participating on trade programmes, including the Netherlands and central and eastern Europe.
Preparations for the new Local Development Plan, to eventually replace the current DoE Plan for the area, are underway in line with the council’s delivery of its planning service. Of key importance is the involvement of the local community in the delivery of the local development plan. A statement of community involvement will set out how and when the local community will be able to participate in this plan for the Lisburn and Castlereagh area so that local views are included. This piece of work will link with the Council’s Corporate Plan and Community Plan as it progresses.
Planning information on the Council’s website is under development as part of the continued website build. Notable developments in the area include the build of an Applegreen Service Station for Northern Ireland, strategically located on the M1 at Lisburn, with a second station planned for the opposite side of the motorway within the next 12 months.
The council manages two of the largest leisure facilities in Northern Ireland; the Dundonald International Ice Bowl and the recently refurbished Lagan Valley LeisurePlex, including the popular Vitality Gym. It is also responsible for Castlereagh Hills Golf Course as well as a number of leisure and community facilities through its community services unit, which is supporting local community groups through the provision of a Community Support Grant Scheme with objectives including civic engagement and social cohesion.
The Council offers a wide choice of leisure facilities and services and is looking to roll out its summer programme of events which will include Park Life in Wallace Park, Lisburn. The Island Arts Centre, based in the Council’s headquarters building, Lagan Valley Island in Lisburn, offers shows, classes, theatre and drama.
Conferencing facilities are available at Lagan Valley Island and the facility is a popular choice for civil marriages and civil partnerships. A registration service is available in Bradford Court as well as at Lagan Valley Island to take account of the needs of the local population. The Council’s Environmental Health Unit is currently based in Bradford Court. An events and on-site technical team are in place to offer an excellent customer experience at Lagan Valley Island’s Conference Centre.
Environmental services has just completed a refurbishment of one of its key civic amenity centres and a number of reviews are underway with regard to service delivery including estate management, waste management and the harmonisation of services from the extant local authorities. The Lagan Rural Development Partnership has recently launched details on grants and funding with workshops in place for information purposes. The council is also looking to Investors in People Accreditation and a number of staff initiatives are in place for this.
In what is a very busy year for the council planning is currently underway for national and international events in the area for 2016. This includes the Balmoral Show, Lisburn Half Marathon and Ulster Grand Prix Bike Week.
Lagan Valley Island
Lisburn, BT27 4RL
Tel: 028 9250 9250