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Our Belfast: Future City 2013

Our Belfast: Future City conference provided an opportunity to take stock of development during the city's 400 year, and to build on the progress made through the State of the City development debates.

We're preparing for our new powers of regeneration, placeshaping and wellbeing under the Reform of Local Government in 2015 and seeking to agree initial priorities for Belfast's development.

We're keen to establish a shared city vision and outcomes. We also want to build mechanisms for community planning so that we can work with a wide range of partners to implement the Belfast Masterplan and improve the city's competitiveness, inclusivity and success.

To start the process, we invited leaders from Belfast's anchor institutions, along with representatives from the private, community and voluntary sectors, to a conference at The MAC on 22 May 2013, which was opened by the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

The conference focused on the emerging findings from the review of the Belfast City Masterplan and started discussions about the strategic priorities for city development. We also updated delegates on the progress of our Investment Programme and unveiled a 3D digital model of Belfast, developed by the University of Ulster's Built Environment Research Institute with our support. It uses the latest technology to map out the impact of planned city developments.

Keynote speakers

Keynote speakers included:

  • Professor Michael Parkinson CBE, of Liverpool John Moore's University, a recognised expert on city competitiveness who has conducted extensive research on Belfast and other cities
  • Alexandra Jones from the Centre for Cities, whose research showed that Belfast has relatively highly skilled residents, but also a high proportion of people with no formal qualifications. 
  • Neil McInroy, Chief Executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), who spoke about the need to develop shared city outcomes and the importance of a partnership focused community planning process. He also presented the findings from our latest research on the impact of Belfast's anchor institutions, including our universities, hospitals and airports.

Four parallel workshops identified key issues and priorities emerging from the draft Masterplan for Belfast; which include the following: 

Centre city 

  • council leadership in driving an integrated approach to city centre regeneration 
  • develop the city centre as a living neighbourhood, with connectivity as a priority, to encourage regeneration and repopulation
  • capitalise on built heritage assets, and their potential for temporary uses 
  • one stop shop for city investment. 

Digital city

  • create a city ambition, a digital imagination
  • need for both a digital strategy and a digital champion for Belfast 
  • prioritise skills development, especially for young people 
  • coordinate and work with the private sector to maximise the digital infrastructure. 

Low carbon 

  • establish a low carbon forum for the city, facilitated by the council 
  • specific projects such as a public sector invest-to-save programme and a newbuild excellence programme 
  • capture and analyse data to support decision making, starting with public sector buildings or a geographic zone 
  • develop a green funding strategy and lobby for targets for energy companies. 

Neighbourhoods 

  • inclusive, citywide engagement to progress the community planning conversation around city outcomes 
  • council to identify appropriate resources and support strong leadership networks at all levels in the city.

Future plans 

The Belfast: Future City conference has opened city wide discussions around strategic priorities for the city's development. We're committed to continue this city wide conversation through various platforms and events, with the aim of delivering shared actions and developing a collaborative community planning process.

Videos

Watch Our city, our future video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ftc5VkiAmGE 
Watch Belfast 3D – Phase 1 video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7LgITqmkuA