City Growth Deal
We launched a major bid for a City Growth Deal at the House of Commons in London on 16 November 2016.
We want to develop an action plan to secure a City Deal for Belfast which will support our already ambitious plans of:
- boosting the economy
- creating jobs
- ensuring economic growth reaches all areas including disadvantaged communities.
We want to focus on our opportunities and accelerating growth.
Representatives of five political parties and the Chief Executive, Suzanne Wylie, were joined at the Westminster session by all four Belfast and other Northern Ireland MPs. Those attending included current Secretary of State James Brokenshire, as well as some of his predecessors, Peter Hain and Theresa Villiers, and former NIO ministers Richard Needham and Vernon Coaker.
Angela Smith, now Baroness Basildon, the leader of the Labour party in the House of Lords was in attendance along with senior Labour party figure Andy Burnham. Business leaders and investors were also present.
These are the areas of discussion on our wish list:
Regeneration and place-making powers
- A single regeneration body at a city level to enable better place-making decision-making with investors wanting one point of contact.
- A single approach to public sector land, agreed major regeneration programmes and a potential enterprise / special action zone to encourage further development.
- Focussed skills and employment support should be available for:
- young people
- vulnerable residents
- those furthest from the labour market
- Belfast needs to engage more with local businesses to support skills and innovation and help local SMEs in developing and exporting high-value products.
Improve transport integration
- An integrated transport hub in the city is critical to decrease congestion and will lead to more people using public transport.
- Better transport connections are needed with Dublin to maximise the economic corridor between Belfast, Newry and Dublin, and onwards to Derry / Londonderry.
Alternative financing platforms
- There is a need to look at alternative financial platforms with potential for a formal finance and performance-based partnership between councils, the Executive and Treasury. This could include the ability to use innovative financing mechanisms available in other cities such as Land Value Capture or earn-back rates growth schemes.
- Councils may also be able to borrow more and co-invest in regeneration schemes over a longer period.
We also took our bid for a city growth deal to Stormont. The debate in Parliament Buildings focused on how Belfast needed to improve on its competitiveness. There was potential to use a real partnership approach and city devolution with the Northern Ireland Executive and UK Government to build on the city’s strengths and become a modern, dynamic region.