A two-year pilot capital grant scheme has just opened to incentivise both property owners and potential occupiers to bring vacant Belfast city centre spaces back into use and support the city centre’s revitalisation.
Belfast City Council has allocated £700,000 to support start-ups, independent retailers, social enterprises and cultural and voluntary organisations to diversify the city centre and transform vacant spaces.
Chair of Belfast City Council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee Councillor Ryan Murphy said: “As part of our Future City Centre Programme we want to see more diversification of how spaces are used within the city centre, while also bringing vacant units back into use.
“We’re aware of the many and complex issues facing city centre at present – and whilst the Vacant to Vibrant capital grant scheme won’t wave a magic wand, it will regenerate individual properties, contribute to higher quality streetscapes, sustain jobs, increase footfall and spend and help create new employment opportunities.
“The face of the High Street has changed so much over recent years and city centres are having to adapt. So, we want to see creativity when it comes to uses for these spaces and how they can be transformed.
“We were delighted with the response to our call for expressions of interest and we’re looking forward to receiving applications from property owners, businesses, social enterprises and cultural and voluntary organisations who want to renovate or repurpose a vacant space. The Vacant to Vibrant Capital Grant scheme will help us to achieve our Bolder Vision ambitions for Belfast – creating a city that’s cleaner, greener, safer, more liveable and more people-focused.”
Grants from £2,500 to £25,000 are available to support the occupation of vacant city premises within the city centre boundary, depending on lease length and size of premises. Successful applicants will be supported through one-to-one mentoring and workshops to help with business growth and sustainability.
Vacant to Vibrant information sessions are scheduled to take place at 2 Royal Avenue, Belfast on the following dates:
- Thursday 21 July 2022: 10am to 4pm
- Friday 22 July 2022: 10am to 4pm
- Thursday 28 July 2022: 10am to 4pm
Advisors will be available to give applicants a clear overview of the grant’s eligibility criteria.
Applicants will be required to demonstrate their proposal’s viability by completing a financial forecasting template as part of their application and will be expected to contribute a minimum of 10 per cent match funding to the grant if successful. They must be able to deliver the scheme within nine months of receiving the Letter of Offer.
For more information, including how to find a vacant property, go to www.belfastcity.gov.uk/vacanttovibrant and email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an application pack containing the guidance notes, application and relevant templates. Applications will be awarded funding on a first come first served basis.