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Northern Ireland targets RoI investors with lure of dual market access and “golden era” for commercial property

Date: 06 Mar 2024

Category: City regeneration and development

John Walsh Chief Executive Belfast City Council, Marie Hunt, Chair of ULI Ireland and Joe O’Neill, Chief Executive, Belfast Harbour and Chair, Belfast City & Region Place Partnership

Northern Ireland’s private and public sectors have joined together to actively target investors in the Republic of Ireland with the offer of unique dual market access to both Great Britain and Europe.

At an event in Dublin yesterday evening, they presented the region’s robust business proposition following the return of the Northern Ireland Executive and the accompanying deal around the Windsor Framework which will provide competitive advantage for both indigenous and inward investment companies based in the region.

Belfast City & Region Place Partnership representatives described a golden era for the region’s economy and its commercial property market in the coming years, with the latter offering some of the strongest yields of all major cities in the UK and Ireland.

Significant developments which are already bolstering the Belfast city region’s commercial property market include Ireland’s largest transport hub Belfast Grand Central and the neighbouring 1.3 million square feet of mixed-use space at Weavers Cross; major investments from companies including Legal & General, providing £150m of funding for a major residential development; a transformational £1 billion Belfast Region City Deal programme of investment; and some of the most attractive yields across Europe.

The Belfast city region forms a key part of the Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor, a partnership which spans both jurisdictions to secure trade and investment from across the globe.

Those attributes are further enhanced by the willingness of the public, private and third sectors to work together to grow the economy, with government collaborating with businesses to expedite their growth, and universities and colleges flexing their curricula to meet evolving business needs.

Joe O’Neill, Chief Executive, Belfast Harbour and Chair, Belfast City & Region Place Partnership, said: “There has never been a better time to invest in the Belfast city region. The development of a new deal around the Windsor Framework and the return of the Northern Ireland Executive complete an already impressive investment case and pave the way for prosperity in the wider region.

“We are delighted to present our compelling offering to the Irish investment community and look forward to making new contacts and engaging with future partners in our journey. Northern Ireland and the Belfast city region has a unique opportunity in the form of dual market access and we intend to make the most of it for our people, our businesses and our partners.”

Marie Hunt, Chair of ULI Ireland, said: “One word that keeps coming to mind in relation to Belfast is opportunity. An already strong investment case is bolstered by strategic access to both the EU and Great Britain, positioning it as a formidable player in attracting global investors and making it a compelling destination for growth.

“A strong Belfast will not only benefit both capitals, but the entire Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor.  The Belfast city region, which is home to a magnitude of international companies and leading universities, offers a very compelling investment, development, and tourism proposition. It is no surprise to me that fDi Intelligence recently listed Belfast as one of the ‘European Cities and Regions of the Future’.”

John Walsh, Chief Executive, Belfast City Council, said: “This is a really exciting time for the Belfast region. We are perfectly positioned to grow significantly as a trading hub and global centre of innovation. As the powerhouse of Northern Ireland’s economy, we are home to a thriving ecosystem of global brands, world-class researchers, and start-ups.

“Our two outstanding universities, network of further education colleges and skills academies ensure the highly educated, adaptable talent pipeline needed to meet industry’s demands.

“A £1bn Belfast Region City Deal programme of investment is creating world-class visitor attractions, regenerating our towns and cities, and enhancing regional connectivity and infrastructure. Further investment in our high performing sectors is enhancing our global relevance and appeal in health and life sciences, screen and media, and advanced manufacturing. We are also investing in our digital innovation capability through regional innovation hubs and testbeds.

“The Belfast City & Region Place Partnership brings together key public, private and third sector representatives – all passionate about creating places where people want to live, study, work, visit and invest.

“With an enviable track record of attracting global investors, significant growth ambitions and a £5.5bn investment and development pipeline available over the next decade, we are looking forward to developing new relationships with investors so we can build a greener, more inclusive region, together.”

For further information on the Belfast city region investment proposition, see

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