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Lord Mayor welcomes significant Belfast Region City Deal progress delivered to date

Date: 27 Sep 2023

Category: City Deal

Belfast cityscape

Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Ryan Murphy has welcomed the significant progress made to date on NI’s first ever City Deal.

His comments follow the latest meeting of the Belfast Region City Deal (BRCD) Council Panel today, hosted by Ards and North Down Borough Council.

Signed in December 2021, the Belfast Region City Deal (BRCD) Programme, funded by the NI and UK Governments and the BRCD Partners, alongside investment from industry partners, is now in delivery phase. Council Panel Members today approved the BRCD’s first Annual Report and took the opportunity to review the significant progress made to date, as well as considering plans for the year ahead. 

Key Belfast Region City Deal achievements to date include: 

  • 13 outline business cases approved,
  • contracts for funding and funding agreements signed for projects with a combined value of £430m
  • Studio Ulster construction underway at Giant’s Park, Belfast,
  • first year Employability and Skills Action Plan implemented; and
  • the first funding drawn down and distributed to projects. 

Welcoming the progress made across the region and speaking on behalf of the Belfast Region City Deal partners, Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Ryan Murphy said: “We’re seeing momentum build in the delivery phase of the Belfast Region City Deal – our huge ambitions for the region are starting to come to life.  There’s fantastic progress being made on Studio Ulster at Giant’s Park in Belfast, since work started on site in October 2022.  It’s exciting that this world-class, large-scale virtual production studio complex, with an integrated centre of excellence for real-time and virtual production, is scheduled to be the very first BRCD project completed, in less than a year’s time.   

“We have now signed contracts for funding and funding agreements for projects with an approximate value of £430m and over the next year aim to award more than 15 major contracts for design and delivery/construction.  Earlier this week, Henry Brothers from Magherafelt were appointed to deliver a £30m contract for the Queen’s-led BRCD Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (AMIC) at Global Point Business Park in Newtownabbey. This is just one of many contracts to come that will provide a much-needed boost to our local economy. 

“We’re achieving key milestones and funding has started to flow through to projects, enabling delivery of this once in a generation investment.  And that’s thanks to true collaboration between all our City Deal partners and stakeholders.  Looking ahead, we will be stepping up our efforts with the NI and UK Governments and partner agencies to ensure that opportunities created through the Belfast Region City Deal are promoted effectively across the UK, Ireland, and internationally as a driver for future investment and inclusive business growth.” 

The six partner councils were updated on the Bangor Waterfront Redevelopment Project, Ards and North Down’s flagship BRCD Project in Northern Ireland’s newest city. This project will reinvigorate a two-mile stretch of the seafront over the next 10 years, helping to re-establish Bangor as prime residential and visitor attraction in Northern Ireland.  The Council has been awarded £40m from BRCD,

Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Jennifer Gilmour who chaired today’s Council Panel meeting, said: “The Belfast Region City Deal will deliver a decade of opportunity.  It’s a transformative programme of local investment that’s ambitious and creating new ways of working between central and local government and regional partners. 

“In Ards and North Down, we are progressing our Bangor Waterfront Redevelopment Plans, having signed our Contract for Funding in January this year.  We will be regenerating existing assets including Bangor’s 5 ‘Gold Anchor’ Marina and the popular family attraction, Pickie Fun Park, as well as significantly developing and improving public spaces.  We plan to deliver a ‘Phase 2’ to Bangor’s popular Court House music venue that will include new event and performance spaces and we will develop an international watersports facility at a new-look Ballyholme Yacht Club Watersports Centre.

“The programme will achieve significant outcomes for the city and the wider Borough, including creating an additional 480 jobs, increasing visitor numbers by 100,000 each year and increasing GVA by £110m, as well as providing environmental and health and wellbeing benefits. 

“We are also progressing plans for the creation of an Innovation Hub in Holywood.  This dedicated space will support the cluster of creative and digital tech companies already working in film and TV Production, animation, AR and VR in Holywood and link to the existing Titanic Film Studios and the new Studio Ulster.  We are currently working on the business case, with an anticipated opening date of 2026.  This is a very exciting opportunity for the creative businesses already operating in Holywood and the many we plan to attract to the town.”

Councillor Gilmour noted the importance of celebrating success as the partners move forward, commenting: “Today’s meeting has given us an opportunity to reflect on several key milestones that we have collectively achieved in 2022/23.  It’s very encouraging as we move forward to deliver further successes across all our investment pillars.”

The first BRCD Annual Report can be accessed via this link:

The Belfast Region City Deal unlocks £1 billion of co-investment that will deliver more than 20 highly ambitious projects and programmes, create up to 20,000 new and better jobs and make the region a global investment destination over the next decade.  

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