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Belfast Region City Deal partners ramp up negotiations

Words: Roger Milne
Belfast / iStock-639582978

The Belfast Region City Deal partners have submitted their proposals to the Northern Ireland Secretary of State with the aim of securing £1 billion of investment from several sources.

This co-investment from the UK Government, local authorities, universities and the private sector is designed to deliver a 10-year programme of inclusive economic growth.

The deal’s central objective is to make the Belfast region a global investment destination, helping to create 20,000 new and better jobs. The focus is on four key investment pillars: digital and innovation, infrastructure, tourism-led regeneration, and skills and employability.

The local authority partners – Antrim and Newtownabbey, Ards and North Down, Belfast, Lisburn and Castlereagh, Mid and East Antrim and Newry, Mourne and Down – 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 to agree the projects for this programme of investment. Priority sectors include cybersecurity, financial services, healthcare and agri-food.

Significant investment in a ‘smart district’, technology test beds and superfast digital connectivity is planned alongside phase two of the Belfast Rapid Transit system to connect Belfast north towards Glengormley and south towards Carryduff.

The tourism proposals include the creation of a heritage attraction at Hillsborough Castle to rival Powerscourt across the border in Wicklow, a state-of-the-art visitor experience to house the Belfast Story and the Belfast Exhibition space, the extension of the Gobbins Cliff and Coastal Path, and attractions to lead visitors to the Mourne Mountains.

Also in prospect are plans to regenerate Bangor’s waterfront and develop new attractions at Whitespots, Newtownards, to build on the tourism potential of the Ards Peninsula and Strangford Lough, and upgrade visitor amenities in Carrickfergus, which boasts one of Europe’s oldest castles and walled towns.

Speaking on behalf of the Belfast Region City Deal partners, Belfast Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey said: “Our negotiations with the Treasury will now be ramped up.

“We’ve developed a genuine partnership and together we’re creating real momentum around this deal. It presents us with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to deliver a decade of significant investment to boost inclusive economic growth, create 20,000 new and better jobs and £470 million GVA. We want to make the region a global investment destination and ensure that we make a positive difference to those living in our most deprived communities.”

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