Belfast Region City Deal Partners Ramp Up Negotiations
Following months of intensive preparations, Belfast Region City Deal partners submitted their ambitious negotiating position to the NI Secretary of State and Westminster today, 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 Newry, Mourne and Down, Antrim and Newtownabbey, Ards and North Down, Belfast, Lisburn and Castlereagh and Mid and East Antrim 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 Superfast 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 Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairman, Councillor Mark Murnin said, "We are delighted to have reached this key milestone in the development of the Belfast Region City Deal. We have in place an investment proposal that focuses on key investment initiatives within our infrastructure, our tourism, our digital connectivity, the skills and education of our people, and innovation and digital capability of our businesses. As we move through the next stage of negotiations, we will continue to work closely with our partners and stakeholders to ensure that the City Deal we secure will deliver on our ambition of a step change in economic performance, and more and better jobs for our people."
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.