Belfast Region City Deal partners ramp up negotiations
1 Oct 2018
Following months of intensive preparations, Belfast Region City Deal partners have submitted their ambitious negotiating position to the NI Secretary of State and Westminster, with the aim of securing £1bn of investment from a number of sources.
This co-investment from the UK government, local government, the universities and private sector will deliver a 10 year programme of inclusive economic growth.
The Deal’s central objective is to make the Belfast Region a global investment destination, so that we can create 20,000 new and better jobs in the sectors where we’re experiencing most rapid growth and have potential to become world leaders. It will focus on four key investment pillars: digital and innovation, infrastructure, tourism led regeneration and skills and employability.
The universities are committing significant capital to the Belfast Region City Deal and local authority partners Antrim and Newtownabbey, Ards and North Down, Belfast, Lisburn and Castlereagh, Mid and East Antrim and Newry, Mourne and Down have committed £100 million.
The six councils have been working with Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University, Belfast Metropolitan College and other Further Education Colleges - and in close collaboration with the Northern Ireland Civil Service, Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Treasury to agree the priority projects for this programme of investment.
Here’s what we want to deliver through a Belfast Region City Deal:
• We want to be world renowned for innovation; so we’re creating a Global Innovation Institute that will leverage our universities’ research capabilities to drive connectivity and help businesses in priority growth sectors derive value from data. These sectors include cyber security, financial services, healthcare and agri-food.
• Other centres of innovation will give our most rapidly growing business sectors (advanced manufacturing, creative industries and life and health sciences) access to cutting edge technologies and expertise, including a ‘factory of the future’. This will support them to build capacity, fuel growth, bring new products and services to market and attract inward investment.
• We’ll prioritise significant investment in a Smart District, technology testbeds and next generation digital connectivity to enable businesses across the region to connect to new markets and opportunities.
• We want to keep tourists here longer, so we’re investing in additional world class, authentic visitor attractions which will attract both domestic and international visitors.
• We want to open up affordable transport access to the new and better jobs that will be created as a result of investment, so we’ll deliver Phase Two of the Belfast Rapid Transit system to connect from Belfast north towards Glengormley and south towards Carryduff.
• And we’ll create and deliver an extensive employability and skills programme, incorporating apprenticeship schemes, with a specific focus on digital skills, so that we can make sure that people are ready to secure the jobs of the future.
Speaking on behalf of the Belfast Region City Deal partners, Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Deirdre Hargey said: “Our negotiations with the Treasury will now be ramped up. We’ve developed a genuine partnership and together we’re creating real momentum around the Belfast Region City Deal. It presents us with a once in a lifetime opportunity to deliver a decade of significant investment to boost inclusive economic growth, create 20,000 new and better jobs and £470m GVA. We want to make the region a global investment destination and ensure that we make a positive difference to those living in our most deprived communities.
“We’re focusing on areas where we can lead the way: innovation, digital development and tourism led regeneration, supported by infrastructure and underpinned by employability and skills programmes to make sure that people can access and deliver the jobs that will be created – and realise their full potential.
“We’ve already established world class expertise in cybersecurity – and we’re capable of global leadership in other areas of digital innovation including Life and Health Sciences, Creative Industries and Advanced Manufacturing. We’re poised to capitalise on the major growth in our tourism sector. But we also need to tackle challenges around infrastructure, low productivity, economic inactivity and low skill levels here.
“We’ve given all of those challenges and opportunities careful consideration in preparing our proposal, and, with cross-party political support and significant backing from the private sector, we’re ready to negotiate for the best Deal possible to deliver significant benefits not only for the Belfast region, but for the entire economy. The BRCD partners are supportive of a Deal for the North West and we’re keen to ensure that both deals complement one another, so that benefits flow to all areas.”
Already, the City Deal process has helped to establish a genuinely collaborative working relationship across the region and is spearheading a new way of working for councils, the broader public sector, education and business. And in an exciting and innovative approach, BRCD partners Queen’s University and Ulster University are working together to develop integrated projects in Digital, Creative Industries, Advanced Manufacturing and Health, to invigorate the economy, with Belfast Metropolitan College and other key stakeholders developing a Belfast Regional Skills strategy.
The partners anticipate that an announcement will be made in the Autumn Budget statement which would give them the green light to work up the proposals further.
For more information, go to www.belfastcity.gov.uk/belfastregioncitydeal and follow #BRcitydeal on Twitter.