Representatives from six partner local authorities were updated today, Wednesday January 31, on the significant progress being made on the £1bn Belfast Region City Deal.
Hosted at Belfast City Hall, today’s Council Panel meeting was followed by a Belfast Stories site visit.
Chairing today’s meeting, Councillor Ronan McLaughlin, Belfast City Council, said: “It’s so encouraging to hear that 15 Belfast Region City Deal Outline Business Cases are now approved, with eight Contracts for Funding signed, for projects with a value of more than £430million.
“Momentum is really building now we’re in delivery phase. This programme of investment is all about creating inclusive opportunities for people living here – and for our economy. I’d like to thank all our partners for their continued collaborative efforts in driving this. Targeted investment in our highest growth sectors is exactly what our economy needs right now.”
Planning is approved for the Factory of the Future site at Global Point, Newtownabbey, and the contract for pre-construction has been awarded for this key component of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre.
Studio Ulster construction is progressing at pace at Giant’s Park, Belfast, and appointment of a supplier for equipment design, development, supply, and installation is underway. The cutting-edge virtual production facility will be operated by Ulster University, via Studio Ulster Ltd.
Queen’s University is now awarding a contract for the iREACH Health pre-construction phase, submitted its planning application for the Lisburn Road site, and is progressing work on site acquisition. It’s also working to launch its Global Innovation Institute Industry Advisory Board. The outline business case for Ulster University’s Centre for Digital Healthcare Technology (CDHT) has received approval from the Department for Economy and is currently being reviewed by the Department of Finance.
Mid and East Antrim’s i4c Cleantech Centre at St Patrick’s Barracks has received outline business case approval and an Integrated Consultant Team will soon be appointed.
Belfast City Council has secured £3.8m funding to support the Belfast Region as a 5G Innovation Region and has signed a contract for almost £1m to deliver the ‘Augment the City’ SME challenge competition launching in March. The outline business case for the Design Smarter: Digital Twin Centre led by Digital Catapult has also been approved. The £7.5m Digital Transformation Flexible Fund project involving all 11 councils, led by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has also been launched.
Funding contracts are in place for the Carrickfergus, Newry City Centre and Bangor Waterfront regeneration projects and an outline business case has been approved for The Gobbins Phase 2, with work progressing to agree a funding contract in the next month.
Meanwhile, procurement of design teams for Bangor Waterfront, Destination Royal Hillsborough and the Mourne Mountain Gateway visitor experience are progressing well. Design development is underway on Belfast Stories and Carrickfergus Regeneration.
Feasibility studies are being completed on Belfast Rapid Transit Phase 2 extensions to Glengormley and Carryduff and work is underway to determine city centre routes to align with the Eastern Transport Plan, Bolder Vision for Belfast and proposed public realm projects.
Public consultation on the proposed Newry Southern Relief Road opens this spring and procurement for a Lagan Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge design and build contractor will get underway in late 2024.
Work is also progressing on a skills assessment to understand the labour and skills implications of the Belfast Region City Deal investments, including the Advanced Manufacturing and Creative Industries sectors.