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Equality and diversity

Equality screening outcome report: Dunbar Place-making Brief

Published in October 2021


Contents

Overview of the screening template
Section A Details about the policy or decision to be screened
1. Title or policy or decision to be screened
2. Brief description of policy or decision to be screened
3. Aims and objectives of policy or decision to be screened
4. Who will the policy or decision impact?
5. Are there linkages to other agencies or departments?
Section B Information on the consultation process
6. Outline consultation process planned or achieved
7. Available evidence
8. What is the likely impact on equality of opportunity for those affected by this policy, for each of the Section 75 equality categories?
9. Are there opportunities to better promote equality of opportunity for people in Section 75 equality categories?
10. To what extent is the policy likely to impact good relations between people of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group?
11. Are there opportunities to better promote good relations between people of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group?
Section C Consideration of Disability Duties
12. Does this proposed policy or decision provide an opportunity for the council to better promote positive attitudes towards disabled people?
13.  Does this proposed policy or decision provide an opportunity to actively increase the participation by disabled people in public life?
14.  Provide details of data on the impact of the policy with multiple identities
15. Monitoring arrangements
Section D
Formal record of screening decision
Screening assessment completed
Screening decision approved
Footnotes


Overview of screening template

The council has a statutory duty to screen. This includes our strategies, plans, policies, legislative developments; and new ways of working such as the introduction, change or end of an existing service, grant funding arrangement or facility. This screening template is designed to help departments consider the likely equality impacts of their proposed decisions on different groups of customers, service users, staff and visitors.    

Before carrying out an equality screening exercise it is important that you have received the necessary training first. To find out about the training needed or any other queries on screening, contact the Equality and Diversity Officer Lorraine Dennis on extension 6027 or or Lisa McKee on extension 6310 by email equality@belfastcity.gov.uk

The accompanying screening guidance note provides straightforward advice on how to carry out equality screening exercises. Detailed information about the Section 75 equality duties and what they mean in practice is available on the Equality Commission’s website.[1]

The screening template has four sections to complete. These are:

  • Section A  provides details about the policy or decision that is being screened
  • Section B gives information on the consultation process, supporting evidence gathered and has four key questions outlining the likely impacts on all equality groups
  • Section C has four key questions in relation to obligations under the Disability Discrimination Order  
  • Section D is the formal record of the screening decision

Section A

Details about the policy or decision to be screened

1. Title of policy or decision to be screened

Dunbar Place-making Brief

Belfast City Council is committed to the regeneration of the city both via the Belfast Agenda and the City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy. Members have been clear that this regeneration programme needs to facilitate the creation of jobs, more homes, better connectivity, more open and high-quality space and community infrastructure for local people. To deliver the scale of regeneration set out members agreed to a comprehensive Strategic Site Assessment (SSA) programme of work, aimed at assessing the regeneration potential of the council’s publicly operated city centre car parks and other city centre assets, together with adjoining publicly owned land. This was in response to the Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy (BCCRIS), the Car Park Strategy and Masterplans recommending a rationalisation of low-density surface car parking to unlock regeneration opportunities in line with the Belfast Agenda’s inclusive growth ambitions.

2. Brief description of policy or decision to be screened

(Explain is this a new, revised or existing policy?  Are there financial, legislative or procurement implications?)

This is the second project that has come forward from the Strategic Sites Assessment programme which has previously been screened and signed off.

The City Growth and Regeneration Committee, at its meeting on 9 May 2018, considered proposals to assess the development and regeneration potential of the council’s surface car parks and adjacent public sector land holdings in the city centre. It agreed that specialist advice be procured to identify the regeneration opportunities arising from the rationalisation of council car parks and adjacent public sector land, and highlighted the contribution that public sector assets within the city centre could make to delivering on the objectives of the

Belfast Agenda, for example mixed-use development, housing, and green space. It was also agreed that there would be due cognisance to the income derived from council’s surface car parks and the impact of the proposed development on the city centre car parking offer.

It is recognised that there is a housing need within the city, together with an aspiration to grow the population of the city by 66,000 and increase city centre living to meet the demands from all sectors. Belfast City Centre Regeneration Investment Strategy (BCCRIS) refers to the aim of encouraging the development of a self-sustaining quality residential market environment providing a mixture of tenures that meets the range of needs of a growing city centre population.

The use of public sector lands presents an opportunity therefore to help address these issues and potentially provide the mechanism to bring forward the right mix of housing stock that meets the various housing demands and results in a successful functioning city centre that connects into the adjoining communities. In bringing forward proposals for potential development, it will be important to ensure this is done in the context of stitching in the adjoining communities and considering those sites that have the most potential to do so.

Following approval by the committee, the council commissioned a multi-disciplinary team of planners, architects, and property consultants to undertake the Strategic Sites Assessment (SSA) in August 2018. The SSA reviewed the council’s fifteen publicly operated city centre car parks and adjoining council assets, as well as adjacent Department for Communities (DfC) owned land to consider locations which would maximise the contribution to the strategic objectives set out in the Belfast Agenda, BCCRIS and other strategic documents. It should however be highlighted that four of these car parks are leased by the council from DfC, Department for Infrastructure (DfI) and the Housing Executive (NIHE).

The study sought to identify opportunities to contribute directly to BCCRIS and to support the priorities of the Belfast Agenda by way of the use of these assets to deliver on regeneration and mixed-use development that would help deliver on the aspirations to increase the residential and employment population and enhance connectivity and open space. In terms of the concept of mixed-use development, it is important to recognise that the nature and mix of proposed uses would differ across the various sites depending on demand, adjoining land uses and scale of development.

The study also identified opportunities for comprehensive development involving wider land assembly or joint development opportunities comprising both public and private sector lands. In addition, it considered the impact on car parking in terms of loss of spaces and income. This SSA work is being taken forward in the context of the vision within the council’s and DfC’s Masterplans, cognisant of adjoining land uses, communities and demand, as well as private sector led developments or proposals.

During 2017 council’s Strategic Policy and Resources (SPandR) Committee, agreed to examine options to relocate the council’s Cleansing Depot in order to consider the wider redevelopment potential of this site and also agreed to acquire Commission House, Gordon Street as a strategic acquisition in line with BCCRIS.

The SSA considered that this combined site could potentially provide a mixed-use place-making led regeneration scheme potentially comprising residential and commercial uses whilst creating new open space and enhancing the permeability of the wider Cathedral Quarter and Clarendon area. There is an exciting opportunity to connect the city core via Cathedral Quarter with surrounding development including Sailortown and City Quays. It has the potential of extending the fabric and feel of the Cathedral Quarter out to the edge of the Dunbar Link potentially creating a catalyst to soften the inner ring road and improving connectivity links to surrounding communities.

3. Aims and objectives of the policy or decision to be screened
(What is the policy trying to achieve?)

A staged process for the SSA work, as outlined below, was undertaken in respect of the fifteen car parks in order to consider those which might be suitable for regeneration and mixed-use development in the context of the ongoing regeneration of the city centre.

Stage 1: Baseline analysis

Identified public or private land ownership surrounding the council’s city centre off-street car parks, adjacent land uses and development proposals, together with planned transport, utility and public realm infrastructure.

Stage 2: Strategic assessment

All sites were reviewed for their potential contribution to strategic plans/ policies and in the context of likely demand for uses. This included their potential to act as a catalyst for mixed use regeneration, which will enhance connectivity and promote council’s place-making ambitions. The regeneration contribution of the sites was considered against the Programme for Government, the Belfast Agenda, BCCRIS, the Urban Regeneration Community Development Policy Framework and relevant Masterplans and strategies.

Stage 3: Shortlisting

Following the Baseline analysis and Strategic assessment, shortlisting of the fifteen sites was undertaken in two phases. The first phase applied two key criteria:

  1. Project being taken forward by an existing project or initiative; and
  2. Project impacted by major infrastructure proposals.

The sites which were impacted by either of these were then considered in terms of timescale but were not brought forward to the second shortlisting phase as part of this process, on the basis that they were either already included as part of separate developments or infrastructure proposals that were being brought forward separately

The second shortlisting phase involved a series of qualitative criteria to the remaining seven sites which considered these factors:

  1. The potential to combine with other public or private sector assets to create more substantial strategic development opportunities
  2. Contribution to Strategic Objectives (for example Belfast Agenda, BCCRIS, Masterplans)
  3. Appropriate land use and how it fits with Strategic Objectives
  4. Overall contribution to the regeneration of the area
  5. Commercial attractiveness

In addition to assessing each of the car park sites in isolation, a review of adjoining public sector owned assets was also undertaken to ascertain the potential for a more comprehensive development approach involving wider land assembly of other public sector lands. Adjoining land uses and likely demand for particular uses were considered. Initial consideration has also been given to adjoining private sector owned lands and development proposals in respect of these assets with a view to considering any opportunities to maximise the use of the council’s assets.

Stage 4: Shortlisted sites

Following the two-stage shortlisting process, it was felt that the remaining six sites could be constituted into three priority clusters:

  1. Inner North West Cluster (Kent Street, Little Donegall Street, Smithfield)
  2. Clarendon Cluster (Dunbar Street and Exchange Street)
  3. Ormeau Avenue

In addition to the car park sites, these priority clusters also considered other adjoining BCC and DfC-owned assets as well as an initial consideration of private sector owned lands. Whilst this work is being undertaken by BCC in collaboration with DfC, it is worth highlighting that DfC will progress proposals within the context of their own governance processes in relation to the future development or disposal of lands in their ownership. Therefore, whilst proposals are being considered in respect of lands owned by both the council and DfC, the council can obviously not make any decisions at this stage in respect of those lands that are owned by DfC.

Summary of emerging findings from the Strategic Sites Assessment

The priority cluster sites represent a significant opportunity for the council to maximise the use of its assets to deliver on the growth ambitions and regeneration priorities as set out in the Belfast Agenda, the Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy and associated Masterplans.  In the context of the Car Parking Strategy, it aligns with the recommendation that consideration be given to the optimal use of surface car parks to best support city centre regeneration and the desire to maximise valuable city centre land to deliver on wider regeneration outcomes. It is recognised however that the impact of lost car parking spaces needs to be considered both in terms of the city centre parking offer and the impact on revenue.

Dunbar Place-making Brief

Discussions with the owners of the immediately adjoining privately-owned assets indicates a desire to consider the optimal overall regeneration of the site based on the combined lands. In November 2019, City Growth and Regeneration Committee agreed that a place-making led Development Framework should be progressed. The purpose of this brief is to appoint a professional to co-develop a place-making led approach to regeneration of lands in multiple ownership (bound by Dunbar Street, Talbot Street, Hill Street and Gordon Street) that will inform a future Development Framework.

It is expected that this will be an eight stage process:

Stage 1

Review of baseline information provided by Belfast City Council to identify any gaps in analysis, issues, challenges, and trends. Update the baseline information with specific reference to:

  • Constraints, including (but not limited to): Land ownership, rights of way, utilities, contamination, transport infrastructure, related development proposals, heritage issues, planning guidance or policy and any other identified constraint.
  • Opportunities, including (but not limited to): Social, economic, environmental, and physical benefits, regeneration benefits, connectivity and place-making benefits, transport benefits, rates income and any other identified opportunity.

Stage 1 output

A graphical summary of the key baseline information and constraints or opportunities supported by text and images.

Stage 2

Based on all available information; particularly ownership boundaries, provide a high level concept vision indicating the potential regeneration opportunity from all landowners working together.

Stage 2 output

A concept regeneration vision for discussion at landowner workshop. The exact presentation format will be discussed on appointment (to take advice from the appointed professional team) but is expected to be a combination of sketch drawings and illustrative examples of similar place-making led regeneration initiatives. Opportunities to align ownership boundaries to development plots will be considered alongside massing and open space.

Stage 3

Organise a workshop style event to present the Stage 2 output (the concept vision) to landowners. Issue invitations (and follow up to confirm attendance), prepare workshop materials and prepare workshop structure and objectives. Facilitate workshop, record landowner feedback and produce a summary report of key issues discussed.

Stage 3 output

A workshop (likely virtual on Zoom or MS Teams) and a summary report of feedback and key issues discussed.

Stage 4

Develop and appraise options based on engagement at Stage 3. Develop regeneration opportunity further to include concept layout plan, mix of uses, massing and concept public realm.

Stage 4 output

Concept regeneration opportunity (similar to RIBA Stage 2 Concept Design).

Stage 5

Follow-up workshop with landowners to review developed regeneration opportunity and seek feedback and secure ‘buy-in’. Organise workshop to present the Stage 4 output to landowners. Issue invitations, prepare workshop materials and prepare workshop structure and objectives. Facilitate workshop, record landowner feedback and produce a summary report of key issues discussed.

Stage 5 output

A workshop (likely virtual on Zoom or MS Teams) and a summary report of feedback and key issues discussed.

Stage 6

Develop and appraise options based on engagement at Stage 5.

Stage 6 output

Concept regeneration opportunity (similar to RIBA Stage 2 Concept Design). Presented using high quality 3D visuals from key angles. Include a Site Layout Plan, Concept Floorplans (including approximate areas and detailed mix of uses), Concept Elevations and Outline Landscape Plan (including hard and soft landscaping within and around site).

Stage 7

Based on Stages 1 to 6, prepare recommended Next Steps and review with BCC to agree.

Stage 7 output

A summary document (with strong visuals) outlining:

  • Stage 1 to 8 process and engagement feedback
  • The regeneration and place-making opportunity
  • Key design principles and opportunities, informing the maximum quantum of development and parameter plans
  • Benefits and opportunities for the immediate area and wider city centre
  • Key issues and risks, including, but not limited to, planning, development costs, funding, site constraints, stakeholder engagement, demand
  • Indicative programme of work identifying key Next Steps

Stage 8

Present overview of Stages 1 to 7 to City Regeneration and Development Programme Board. Make any necessary amendments from Programme Board feedback and present to City Growth and Regeneration Committee.

Stage 8 output

High quality PowerPoint presentation.


4. Who will the policy or decision impact?

Consider the internal and external impacts (both actual or potential) and explain.
People Actual or potential impact
Staff Yes
There will be some impact on on staff with the loss of car parking. Belfast City Council’s City Regeneration and Development team will lead on the delivery of a number of work strands and will work closely with colleagues in across Place and Economy Department and the wider council who will also deliver elements.
Service users Yes
It is envisaged that work streams will impact on traders, businesses, shoppers and people using the transport network and streets.
Other public sector organisations Yes
Transport NI, DfI, DfC, Invest NI, Housing Executive, Visit Belfast, Tourism NI. Proposals for public realm works and changes to transport infrastructure will have implications for these organisations as highway authorities and landowners.
Voluntary, community groups and trade unions Yes
Others, please specify
 
Yes
All those who live in, work in, study, invest in or visit the city.

5. Are there linkages to other agencies or departments?

The Strategic Sites Assessment contains a number of elements to develop a vibrant and prosperous city centre. This will require close collaborative working and partnership delivery across a number of agencies and organisations from across the public, private and community sectors, with the appropriate agency or department taking the lead. Key agencies include:

Government and other public bodies

Departments for Communities, Infrastructure, Finance, Employment and Learning, Enterprise, Trade and Investment; Translink; Belfast City Centre Management; Belfast ONE BID; Linen Quarter BID; Cathedral Quarter BID; Invest NI; Policing and Community safety Partnership; Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

Institutions

University of Ulster; Queen's University; Belfast Metropolitan College; Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Institute of Place Management.

Area or community

Neighbourhood and Area Partnership representing local communities.  Young people aand older people.

Others

Commercial agents, city centre businesses, trade unions, key developers, Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Retail NI, NI Retail Consortium, Trade NI.


Section B

Information on the consultation process, supporting evidence gathered and has four key questions outlining the likely impacts for equality and good relations

6.  Outline consultation process planned or achieved

Background

Mixed use regeneration

The council is committed to the regeneration of the city via the Belfast Agenda and the City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy. Members have been clear that this regeneration programme needs to facilitate the creation of jobs, more homes, better connectivity, more open and high-quality space and community infrastructure for local people.  To deliver the scale of regeneration set out, these conditions need to be put in place:

  • A clear understanding of suitability of various sites and parts of the city for different types of development or space
  • The right mix of asset classes to build both the social and the economic infrastructure needed for a sustainable city
  • An appropriate mix of public and private sector investment and development
  • Partnerships between the public sector and the private sector
  • Effective planning policies and processes to ensure high standards of more sustainable development.

Strategic site assessment

The council commissioned the Strategic Sites Assessment (SSA) in August 2018 to assess the regeneration potential of the council’s fifteen publicly-operated city centre car parks and adjoining publicly-owned land. This was in response to the Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy (BCCRIS), Car Park Strategy (CPS) and Action Plan and city centre Masterplans that all recommend a rationalisation of low density surface level car parking to unlock regeneration opportunities in line with the Belfast Agenda’s inclusive growth ambitions.

At the meeting of City Growth and Regeneration Committee in June 2019, members agreed that a report be submitted to a future meeting of the committee providing details of air quality levels across the city and that reference be made to air quality within future reports.

The SSA sought to identify mixed use regeneration opportunities that would contribute directly to BCCRIS and support the priorities of the Belfast Agenda. Inclusive growth was considered within the context of growing the city centre residential and employment population and enhancing connectivity and open space provision. The SSA also identified potential opportunities for maximising comprehensive regeneration through wider land assembly or joint development opportunities across public and private sector land. Members should note that whilst the SSA is being undertaken in collaboration with DfC, the Department will progress any potential future development or disposal of lands in their ownership within the context of their respective governance processes.

The SSA comprised a four-stage process to consider those car parks which might be suitable for mixed-use regeneration in the short term. The shortlisting process prioritised six car park sites, grouped into three priority clusters:

  • Inner North West Cluster (Kent Street, Little Donegall Street, Smithfield)
  • Clarendon Cluster (Dunbar Street and Exchange Street)
  • Ormeau Avenue

Site visit and workshop

Following an update on the SSA initial findings in June 2019, the City Growth and Regeneration Committee agreed to further engagement by a workshop. A site visit and workshop for members took place on 4 September 2019. The site visit involved a walk around two of the SSA cluster areas; the INW (Smithfield, Samuel Street, Kent Street, Library Street, Little Donegall Street) and Clarendon (Dunbar Street).

At the workshop, the three SSA priority cluster sites were presented with details of land ownership, potential place-making and regeneration potential when comprehensively planned with adjoining third-party land, potential uses and densities and recommendations for taking forward. Feedback from members included:

  • The need for engagement with neighbouring communities
  • Ensuring inclusive, shared development
  • Agreement that the city centre offers significant regeneration potential and the opportunity to maximise the regeneration potential through working collaboratively with other landowners
  • Potential to provide social enterprise and community infrastructure
  • Support the need to unlocking city centre living including working with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, utilising public sector lands for mixed tenure opportunities, exploring potential public sector funding mechanisms and engaging with investors and developers
  • Support for a comprehensive place-making approach and the potential opportunities to maximise this through strategic land assembly
  • Desire for the council to retain control over development through title retention, detailed development briefs or joint ventures and to ensure social and economic benefits are maximised

Further engagement with members took place via Party Group Briefings during October 2019 outlining the development potential and opportunities of each of the priority clusters. 

SSA findings and recommendations

For each cluster site, the multi-disciplinary SSA team prepared a planning appraisal, conceptual development proposal and an initial assessment of the net loss in car parking provision. 

An overview of the development potential for each of the clusters will be presented to committee with a summary given. These sketches provide information on the potential heights, mass, densities and potential uses for each of the sites considered based on market information, location and maximum regeneration potential for each of the cluster areas. The final heights, mass, densities and uses will be informed by the market, brought forward by legal agreements through which the council can control the nature and timescale of development (subject to terms to be agreed by the council’s Estates Unit and Legal Services).

Final Development Agreements will be presented to City Growth and Regeneration Committee, however all decisions on agreements, financial returns from future land transactions will be taken by Strategic Policy and Resources Committee following advice from the council’s Estates and Legal Departments.

It should be noted that there will be an impact on the revenue collected by the council for car parking and it is proposed that a detailed report on this and the potential to realise a revenue stream via other means should be developed and brought back to the committee.


7.  Available evidence

What evidence or information (both qualitative and quantitative) have you gathered to inform this policy?  Set out all evidence to help inform your screening assessment.

It is important to record information gathered from a variety of sources such as:

  • monitoring information
  • complaints
  • research surveys
  • consultation exercises from other public authorities

Policy context

Regional

The draft NI Programme for Government, draft NI Industrial Strategy, the UK Industrial Strategy and the emerging industrial programme being developed by the Belfast Regional City Deal (BRCD) partners provide clear policy frameworks that promote investment and innovation in the growing knowledge economy and tourism sector.

The Regional Development Strategy 2035 (RDS) is the spatial strategy for the Northern Ireland Executive and provides an overarching planning framework to facilitate and guide development. The RDS provides strategic guidance through Regional Guidance (RG) and Spatial Framework Guidance (SFG) under the three sustainable development themes of the Economy, Society and Environment.

The Spatial Framework Guidance 3 (SPG) specifically recognises the need to enhance the distinctive role of Belfast City Centre as the primary retail location in Northern Ireland. In relation to future major retail development proposals, it promotes a precautionary approach to out-of-town shopping development, given the likely adverse impact on the city centre area. The Strategic Planning Policy Statement (SPPS) advocates a town centre approach for the location and future of retailing and other main town centre uses. This policy aims to encourage better decision-making through supporting and sustaining vibrant centres through Local Development Plans (LDPs).

Belfast Agenda

The vision for Belfast in 2035 set out in the Belfast Agenda is:

Belfast will be a city re-imagined and resurgent. A great place to live and work for everyone. Beautiful, well connected and culturally vibrant, it will be a sustainable city shared and loved by all its citizens, free from the legacy of conflict. A compassionate city offering opportunities for everyone. A confident and successful city energising a dynamic and prosperous city region. A magnet for talent and business and admired around the world. A city people dream to visit.

The Belfast Agenda has ambitious targets of:

  • 46,000 additional jobs
  • 66,000 additional residents
  • Attract over £1billion in private sector investment
  • Create 4,000 business Start Ups
  • Grow the city’s Rate Base by five per cent through an increased number of residential and commercial developments
  • Increase the percentage of residents satisfied with the city living experience

City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy

The City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy outlines an exciting vision to develop a world-class city centre for the future.

A thriving city centre is vital to the prosperity of the whole city and the region. Around two-thirds of all jobs in Belfast are located in and around the city centre, so everything that we do to enhance it will benefit the city as a whole.

The strategy sets out our collective ambition for the continued growth and regeneration of the city core and its surrounding areas to 2030.  It has been shaped by extensive engagement with stakeholders and contains a roadmap of policies to guide city centre decision-making and key projects that translate those policies into action. 

Core principles

We are determined that the regeneration of our city centre will drive not just economic growth but social benefits. The strategy therefore includes a commitment to ongoing engagement with local people to ensure that the social impact of regeneration is maximised.  

The strategy is based on eight core policies. It will aim to:

  • increase the employment population
  • increase the residential population
  • manage the retail offer
  • maximise the tourism opportunity
  • create a regional learning and innovation centre
  • create a green centre, accessible to cyclists and walkers
  • connect to the city around
  • enhance shared space and social impact 

Implementation

Now that the strategy has been finalised, the focus will be on delivery to realise aspirations for the city centre by ensuring that the projects, policies and opportunities described are followed through and delivered.

This strategy sets out Belfast City Council’s ambition for continued growth and regeneration of the city core to 2030 and contains policies to guide decision-making and key projects to drive economic growth and deliver social benefits.

The principles of BCCRIS include increasing the employment and residential population, managing retail, maximising tourism, creating a learning and innovation centre and a green centre. City connectivity, shared space and social impact are also key values. BCCRIS also identifies five special action areas within the city centre which have been progressed through master plans implemented by the council.

BCCRIS provides a vision for increasing the residential population in Belfast City Centre by creating:

A compelling, attractive and secure environment, with shopping, open space and other amenities is essential. The overall strategy to improve the public realm, food and entertainment offerings, connectivity and general “buzz” of the city centre is as important to increasing the residential population as ensuring there are appropriate sites for development.

Through its policy to ‘Increase the Residential Population’ these opportunities are outlined:

  • Identify key residential sites and prepare market and development briefs, in discussion with landowners. If necessary, prepare financial models to underpin and support funding package applications.
  • The council will continue to develop a balanced approach to student housing in the city including consideration of planning policy and other mechanisms to ensure this type of development is located in suitable locations and the many associated benefits can be maximised.
  • Remedy any key deficiencies in the city centre living environment, through improvement of food shopping, day-care, open space and sense of security.
  • Identify well-supported, social housing opportunities along the major roads leading into the centre.

Emerging Local Development Plan

The draft Plan Strategy was launched at the end of August 2018. ‘Creating a Vibrant Economy’ is one of the primary aims of the plan to strengthen Belfast as the regional economic driver. It recognises that for our city centre to remain successful, it needs to be the focus for major new investment and retail development. It will encourage a mix of different shops and services and decide where these should be located. The retail policies within the LDP will seek to address current and future retailing needs over the plan period. It will therefore aim to:

  • Provide a range of uses appropriate to the role and function of a city centre which can realise ambitions for growth.
  • Acknowledge the distinctive role of Belfast City Centre as the primary location for retailing in the region.
  • Adopt a sequential approach to the identification of retail and other town centre uses decision making.
  • Maintain and improve accessibility to and within the city centre by supporting connectivity.
  • Support local economies by ensuring continued vibrancy and vitality.
  • Develop a compact urban form that maximises opportunities in the city centre.
  • Provide a focus for economic development.

Retail and Leisure Capacity Study

The Retail and Leisure Capacity Study for Belfast has been prepared in order to inform the contents of the new Local Development Plan 2035 (LDP) for Belfast City Council. The study provides guidance on the capacity for new retail and leisure development in Belfast, as well as strategic and operational advice relating to the scale, nature and location of this development in the foreseeable future.

The health check of the city centre has yielded these main findings:

  • According to GOAD, the primary retail area in the city centre has a vacancy rate higher than the GB average, with 18 per cent of units vacant in 2016 compared to 11per cent in GB. By and large, this level of vacancy has not changed since 2009.
  • The proportion of comparison goods shops in the primary retail area has fallen by seven per cent between 2009 and 2016. In contrast, the proportion of leisure service uses has increased by five per cent.
  • The presence of multiples in the city centre is increasing (55 per cent of comparison goods units in 2016 compared to 51 per cent in 2009).
  • Rental levels on the prime pitches in Belfast are stabilising in line with the trend in GB, while commercial yields on investment in parts of these pitches are exceeding those in several comparably sized cities (Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds).
Section 75 category Details of evidence information and engagement
Religious belief

On Census Day 2011, 48.8 per cent of the population of Belfast identified as Catholic and 42.5 per cent identified as Protestant. Belfast had a slightly higher percentage of people identifying as “Other” or “None” religion than the Northern Ireland average. Table 1 shows religious belief information recorded on Census Day 2011.

In a 2010 study2 conducted by Queen’s University, Belfast city was seen as space where people could mingle and feel safe. It is also seen as having the potential to be an important area for social change in everyday life.

Political opinion

The results of May 2019 elections to Belfast City Council are shown in Table 2. The city centre is a place where people from a variety of political backgrounds live, work, visit and study. This programme aims to create a more vibrant city centre to that will be attractive those who live, work and visit the city.  Issues concerning shared space in the city centre are key to all political communities. 

Racial group

According to the 2011 Census, 96.7 per cent of the population of Belfast are White. The main minority ethnic groups are Chinese, Indian and Mixed ethnic group. Table 3 shows ethnic groups recorded in Belfast on Census Day 2011.

Migrant workers from the A2 and A8 European Union (EU) Accession countries (Bulgaria, Romania, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) represented 1.9 per cent of population, with a further 0.7 per cent from other EU countries.

The Census also identified that 4.3 per cent of the Belfast population aged three years old and over did not have English as their main language, which was higher than the NI average of 3.1 per cent. In 2018, the Department for Education identified 3,510 “newcomer” pupils (a newcomer pupil is one who has enrolled in a school but who does not have the satisfactory language skills  to participate fully in the school curriculum, and the wider environment, and does not have a language in common with the teacher, whether that is English or Irish) across NI. 

While the Census data is the most accurate dataset available on ethnic minorities in NI, in 2020 it is likely to be an underestimation of the ethnic minority population.

Age

According to NISRA 2018 mid-year population estimates, Belfast has a relatively young population with 55.7 per cent of the population aged under 40 compared to 51.6 per cent of the NI population. These population estimates for age groups in Belfast are shown in Table 4.

NISRA projects that by 2041, people under 40 will make up 51.3 per cent of the population, but that the 65 years old and over age bracket will be the fastest growing, comprising 72,245 people or 20.4 per cent of the Belfast population.

Belfast has a growing student population with a number of new purpose built student accommodation blocks in the city centre and the new Ulster University city centre campus that will see some 15,000 students use the facilities daily.

In 2014, Belfast was the first city in Northern Ireland to join the World Health Organisation’s Global Network of Age Friendly Cities.  An age-friendly city is one in which organisations work together to make sure the quality of life for people is enhanced as they age.  Belfast City Council is part of the Healthy Ageing Strategic Partnership (HSAP) working with older people to ensure that Belfast is changing to meet the needs and desires of older people.

People from a variety of ages live, work, study and visit the city centre. This programme aims to improve vibrancy and vitality of the city centre.

Marital status

On Census Day 2011, a higher proportion of Belfast residents aged 16 and over were single, separated, divorced or widowed than the NI resident population. The percentage of people living alone was 22.2 per cent which was the highest rate across NI where the average was 16.8 per cent. There were 353 residents (0.1 per cent) in civil partnerships, almost a third of all such partnerships in NI at that time. This is likely to be higher in 2020. Table 5 shows marital status percentages recorded on Census Day in 2011.

Sexual orientation

There are currently no or limited statistics that monitor the sexual orientation of the population in NI. The 2018 NI Life and Times found that 94per cent of respondents identified as “heterosexual or ‘straight’ ”; one per cent as “’gay’ or ‘lesbian’ (homosexual)”; one per cent as “bisexual”’ and one per cent as “Other” (three per cent declined to answer). A commonly used estimate of LGBTQ+ people in the UK, accepted by Stonewall UK, is five to seven per cent of the population.

Men and women generally

According to NISRA 2018 mid-year population estimates, the population of Belfast by gender is broadly even, although there is a higher proportion of older females (59.3 per cent of the over 65 population are female). These population estimates for gender age groups in Belfast are shown in Table 6.

Disability

The 2011 Census asked people to what extent a long-term health problem or disability (that is, which has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months) limits their day-to-day activities. At 25.9 per cent, Belfast has a higher proportion of people with a limiting health condition or disability than the general NI population (20.7 per cent). Table 7 shows population percentages with limits on day-to-day activities due to a long-term health problem or disability. 

Dependants

The 2011 Census defines a “dependent child” as a person aged under 16 or young person aged 16 to 18 who is a full-time student and living in a family with a parent or grandparent.

The 2011 Census showed that 28.6 per cent of households in Belfast included a dependent child compared to 33.9 per cent of households across NI. Historical Census data shows that the proportion of households with dependent children in both NI and Belfast has been in decline since 1981.

The Belfast City Council 2014 Residents’ Survey reported that 32.3 per cent of the population have dependants or caring responsibilities. In Belfast in 2018, 15,550 people or 4.5 per cent of the population claimed Carer’s Allowance. (Carer’s Allowance is a non-contributory benefit for people who look after a severely disabled person for at least 35 hours a week.) This was higher than the NI average of 3.9 per cent. Most claimants were female: 62.9 per cent compared to 37.9 per cent male.

Table 1 Religious belief in Belfast and Northern Ireland recorded on Census Day 2011

Religious belief Belfast  Northern Ireland
Religion or religion brought up in: Catholic (per cent) 48.8% 45.1%
Religion or religion brought up in: Protestant and Other Christian, including Christian-related (per cent) 42.5% 48.4%
Religion or religion brought up in: Other religions (per cent) 1.6% 0.9%
Religion or religion brought up in: None (per cent) 7.1% 5.6%

Table 2 Councillors from political parties elected to Belfast City Council in May 2019

Political party Total elected candidates
Sinn Féin 18
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) 15
Alliance Party 10
Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) 6
Green Party Northern Ireland 4
People Before Profit Alliance 3
Progressive Unionist Party of Northern Ireland 2
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) 2

Table 3 Ethnic groups in Belfast and Northern Ireland recorded on Census Day in 2011

Ethnic group Belfast  Northern Ireland
White 96.7% 98.2%
Irish Traveller 0.1% 0.1%
Mixed 0.5% 0.3%
Indian 0.7% 0.3%
Pakistani 0.1% 0.1%
Bangladeshi 0.1% 0.03%
Other Asian 0.6% 0.3%
Black Caribbean 0.03% 0.02%
Black African 0.3% 0.1%
Other Black 0.1% 0.1%
Chinese 0.7% 0.4%
Other ethnic group 0.2% 0.1%

Table 4  NISRA 2018 mid-year population estimates for age in Belfast and Northern Ireland

Age group Belfast  Northern Ireland
under one year old to 15 years old 19.9% 20.9%
16 years old to 39 years old 35.8% 30.7%
40 years old to 64 years old 29.6% 31.9%
65 years old and over 14.6% 16.3%

Table 5 Marital status of people in Belfast and Northern Ireland recorded on Census Day 2011

Marital status Belfast  Northern Ireland
Single 45.3% 36.1%
Married 35.6% 47.6%
Civil partnership 0.13% 0.09%
Separated 5.4% 4.0%
Divorced or civil partnership dissolved 6.2% 5.5%
Widowed or surviving civil partner 7.5% 6.8%

Table 6 NISRA 2018 mid-year population estimates for gender ages in Belfast

Age group Belfast 
Male Female
All ages 48.5% 51.5%
Under one year old to 15 years old 10.2% 9.7%
16 years old to 39 years old 17.7% 18.1%
40 years old to 64 years old 14.3% 15.3%
65 years old and older 6.3% 8.4%

Table 7 Limits on day-to-day activities due to long-term health problem or disability recorded on Census Day 2011 in Belfast and Northern Ireland

Limits on day-to-day activities due to long-term health problem or disability Belfast
population 
Northern Ireland
population
Day-to-day activities limited a lot 14.4% 11.9%
Day-to-day activities limited a little 11.5% 88%
Day-to-day activities limited not limited 76.5% 79.3%

8. What is the likely impact (indicate if the policy impact is positive or negative) on equality of opportunity for those affected by this policy, for each of the Section 75 equality categories? What is the level of impact?

Section 75 category Likely impact Level of impact
Religious belief

The project aims to provide a framework for the regeneration of the city centre. It will develop and transform the city centre into an economically dynamic and attractive shared space for everyone in Belfast.

There is potential for minor positive impact relevant to the equality of opportunity of this group.
Minor
Political opinion 

The project aims to provide a framework for the regeneration of the city centre. It will develop and transform the city centre into an economically dynamic and attractive shared space for everyone in Belfast.

There is potential for minor positive impact relevant to the equality of opportunity of this group.

Minor
Racial group 

The project aims to provide a framework for the regeneration of the city centre. It will develop and transform the city centre into an economically dynamic and attractive shared space for everyone in Belfast.

There is potential for minor positive impact relevant to the equality of opportunity of this group.

Minor

Age

The project aims to provide a framework for the regeneration of the city centre. It will develop and transform the city centre into an economically dynamic and attractive shared space for everyone in Belfast.

There is potential for minor positive impact relevant to the equality of opportunity of this group.

Minor
Marital status

The project aims to provide a framework for the regeneration of the city centre. It will develop and transform the city centre into an economically dynamic and attractive shared space for everyone in Belfast.

There is potential for minor positive impact relevant to the equality of opportunity of this group.

Minor
Sexual orientation

The project aims to provide a framework for the regeneration of the city centre. It will develop and transform the city centre into an economically dynamic and attractive shared space for everyone in Belfast.

There is potential for minor positive impact relevant to the equality of opportunity of this group.

Minor
Men and women generally 

The project aims to provide a framework for the regeneration of the city centre. It will develop and transform the city centre into an economically dynamic and attractive shared space for everyone in Belfast.

There is potential for minor positive impact relevant to the equality of opportunity of this group.

Minor
Disability

The project aims to provide a framework for the regeneration of the city centre. It will develop and transform the city centre into an economically dynamic and attractive shared space for everyone in Belfast.

There is potential for minor positive impact relevant to the equality of opportunity of this group.

Minor

 Dependants

The project aims to provide a framework for the regeneration of the city centre. It will develop and transform the city centre into an economically dynamic and attractive shared space for everyone in Belfast.

There is potential for minor positive impact relevant to the equality of opportunity of this group.

Minor

9.  Are there opportunities to better promote equality of opportunity for people within the Section 75 equalities categories?

Section 75 category If 'yes', provide details If 'no', provide reasons
Religious belief

The project will focus on improving the quality of life in the city centre.

It should be noted that any significant projects in the programme will require engagement with Section 75 groups and screening in their own right by the lead delivery organisation and will be driven by a strong focus on outcomes for local people.

This is not applicable

Political opinion  It should be noted that any significant projects in the programme will require engagement with Section 75 groups and screening in their own right by the lead delivery organisation and will be driven by a strong focus on outcomes for local people.

This is not applicable

Racial group  It should be noted that any significant projects in the programme will require engagement with Section 75 groups and screening in their own right by the lead delivery organisation and will be driven by a strong focus on outcomes for local people.

This is not applicable

Age It should be noted that any significant projects in the programme will require engagement with Section 75 groups and screening in their own right by the lead delivery organisation and will be driven by a strong focus on outcomes for local people.

This is not applicable

Marital status It should be noted that any significant projects in the programme will require engagement with Section 75 groups and screening in their own right by the lead delivery organisation and will be driven by a strong focus on outcomes for local people.

This is not applicable

Sexual orientation It should be noted that any significant projects in the programme will require engagement with Section 75 groups and screening in their own right by the lead delivery organisation and will be driven by a strong focus on outcomes for local people.

This is not applicable

Men and women generally  It should be noted that any significant projects in the programme will require engagement with Section 75 groups and screening in their own right by the lead delivery organisation and will be driven by a strong focus on outcomes for local people.

This is not applicable

Disability It should be noted that any significant projects in the programme will require engagement with Section 75 groups and screening in their own right by the lead delivery organisation and will be driven by a strong focus on outcomes for local people.

This is not applicable

 Dependants It should be noted that any significant projects in the programme will require engagement with Section 75 groups and screening in their own right by the lead delivery organisation and will be driven by a strong focus on outcomes for local people.

This is not applicable


10. To what extent is the policy likely to impact (positive or negatively) on good relations between people of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group? What is the level of impact? 

Good relations category Likely impact Level of impact
Religious belief

It is our belief based on evidence that there would likely be a minor positive impact on people of different religious beliefs in that the proposed actions will provide opportunity for the promotion of a shared, welcoming and vibrant city centre.

Minor
Political opinion  It is our belief based on evidence that there would likely be a minor positive impact on people of different political opinions in that the proposed actions will provide opportunity for the promotion of a shared, welcoming and vibrant city centre. Minor
Racial group It is our belief based on evidence that there would likely be a minor positive impact on people of different racial groups in that the proposed actions will provide opportunity for the promotion of a shared, welcoming and vibrant city centre. Minor

11.  Are there opportunities to better promote good relations between people of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group?  

Good relations category If 'yes', provide details If 'no', provide details
Religious belief

The project will focus on improving the quality of life in the city centre.

It should be noted that any significant projects in the programme will require engagement with Section 75 groups and screening in their own right by the lead delivery organisation and will be driven by a strong focus on outcomes for local people.
This is not applicable
Political opinion 

The project will focus on improving the quality of life in the city centre.

It should be noted that any significant projects in the programme will require engagement with Section 75 groups and screening in their own right by the lead delivery organisation and will be driven by a strong focus on outcomes for local people.

This is not applicable
Racial group 

The project will focus on improving the quality of life in the city centre.

It should be noted that any significant projects in the programme will require engagement with Section 75 groups and screening in their own right by the lead delivery organisation and will be driven by a strong focus on outcomes for local people.
This is not applicable

Section C

Belfast City Council also has legislative obligations to meet under the Disability Discrimination Order. Questions 12 and 13 relate to these areas.

Consideration of Disability Duties

12. Does this proposed policy or decision provide an opportunity for the council to better promote positive attitudes towards disabled people?

Explain your assessment in full

The regeneration project brief will have no direct impact on disabled people. The project delivering on objectives of the brief will address these issues separately. 


13. Does this proposed policy or decision provide an opportunity to actively increase the participation by disabled people in public life?

Explain your assessment in full

The regeneration project brief will have no direct impact on disabled people. The project delivering on objectives of the brief will address these issues separately.


14. Multiple identities

Provide details of data on the impact of the policy with multiple identities

Not known at this stage


15. Monitoring arrangements

Section 75 places a requirement the council to have equality monitoring arrangements in place:

  • to assess the impact of policies and services
  • to help identify barriers to fair participation
  • to better promote equality of opportunity

Section 75 places a requirement for the council to have equality monitoring arrangements in place in order to assess the impact of policies and services and to help identify barriers to fair participation and to better promote equality of opportunity.  

Outline what data you will collect in the future to monitor the impact of this policy or decision on equality, good relations and disability duties.

Equality Good Relations Disability Duties

Each significant project will address these duties separately and will include monitoring.

Each significant project will address these duties separately and will include monitoring. Each significant project will address these duties separately and will include monitoring.

Section D

Formal record of screening decision

Title of proposed policy or decision being screened

Dunbar Place-making Brief

I can confirm that the proposed policy or decision has been screened for:

  • equality of opportunity and good relations
  • disability duties
On the basis of the answers to the screening questions, I recommend that this policy or decision is
Screened in 
It is necessary to conduct an equality impact assessment
Not applicable

Screened out
It is not necessary to conduct an equality impact assessment (no impacts)

This is a project brief for a regeneration project that is part of the Strategic Sites Assessment work that has been undertaken. The significant projects that come out of this brief will be screened in their own right by the lead delivery organisation.

Yes
 

Screened out
Mitigating actions (minor impacts)

  • Provide a brief note to explain how this decision was reached
  • Explain what mitigating actions or policy changes will now be introduced.

Screening assessment completed by

Name:     Simon Rees
Date:   20 September 2021
Department: Place and Economy


Screening decision approved by

Name:  Adrian Ferguson
Date:  20 September 2021
Department: Place and Economy


Please save the Word final version of the completed screening form and email to the Equality and Diversity Officer: equality@belfastcity.gov.uk  A link to this screening form will be provided to the council's Section 75 consultee.

For more information about equality screening, contact:

Lorraine Dennis or Lisa McKee
Equality and Diversity Unit
Belfast City Council
Belfast City Hall
Belfast
BT1 5GS
Telephone: 028 9027 0511
Email: equality@belfastcity.gov.uk

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Footnotes

[1] Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (link opens in new window)

[2] Conflict in Cities and the Contested State (this PDF opens in new window)

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