Belfast City Deal: On Track for Autumn Statement Inclusion? - Here's the detail

Development of the Belfast Region City Deal (BRCD) in accordance with the requirements of the Department for Communities and Local Government, is now in full operation according to Belfast City Council. Here's the rundown of some of the details taken from recently published minutes.

The programme is being developed to fulfil the agreed objective for the city deal of ‘more and better jobs; inclusive growth; improved skills and growth of domestic business and FDI’.  

At the last SP&R Committee at Belfast City Council, members were provided with an update on the work completed to define the key strands of the Belfast city Region deal in relation to Innovation, Digital, Infrastructure, Tourism and Employability and Skills.


This included a number of outline innovation proposals from the two Universities relating to:

·        A Digital Innovation Centre

·        A Financial (and Legal) Technology Centre

·        Academic Medical Research Institute

·        Creative Industries Centre of Excellence

·        A Global Innovation Institute

Employability and Skills

An Employability and Skills framework with three principal strands:

1.     Targeting economic inactivity

2.     Addressing skill supply issues

3.     Meeting the skills needs of our growth sectors

Specific priority areas and programmes are being developed to support the key strands in areas such as; Careers Enhancement, Apprenticeship Hub, Graduate Development, Employability for All, Economic Activation, Business Productivity.


A digital proposition led by Future Cities Catapult which has now identified significant digital innovation projects including;

·        A 5G Smart District

·        A Regional Connectivity Fund

·        A Digital Innovation Platform

·        Makers Network


Work has commenced on the development of an OBC for the Belfast Story gallery and film Centre which is due to be completed by the end of June 2018.  Work is also continuing on Tourism product in other areas such as the Gobbins II and Carrickfergus Castle.

Other Infrastructure

Key infrastructure projects linked to the priorities identified in a number of council strategies including the Belfast Agenda, the City Centre Regeneration Strategy and the Local Development Plan.  These include, Belfast Rapid Transit phase 2- Linking the north & south of the city, Lagan Bridges and Links, Transport Hub phase 2 (Weavers Cross), York Street Interchange and Living with Water.  It should be noted that all of the ‘suggested’ projects will now undergo a costing and prioritisation process and there will inevitably be a number which will not be delivered under city deal.

Work has also begun on the affordability element of projects and a process has begun to ensure any projects going forward to the deal have robust costings from both a capital and revenue perspective.  Financing considerations are also being developed at both a project and programme level including assessing affordability, borrowing requirements and alternative sources of funding.

The six chief executives and senior officials from NICS will now meet with MHCLG and HMT to update on the work completed, test emerging projects for possible inclusion in the deal, discuss financing and economic modelling and agree next steps in the negotiations to ensure the city region is on track to secure a deal by the autumn statement.

Next Steps

While significant work has been completed to date, the development of the deal is entering a new phase.   Officers are now assessing the resource and expertise required to develop robust project propositions that will secure the best possible deal.  Information required by MHCLG at project level includes:

·        Purpose of the project

·        Impacts- outcomes/outputs

·        Economic Modelling

·        Operation and Sustainability

·        Delivery Model

·        Timescales

·        Finances

·        Interdependencies

This will involve more intensive working with the NICS departments, the Universities, Belfast Harbour, the FE colleges, Belfast Met, other training providers and the private sector.  New work streams and governance structures are therefore being developed which will also have to take account of the financing arrangements and proposals to support the delivery on the deal once this is secured. As agree at the last meeting a Joint members Forum will be held with members from all six councils to discuss progress.  This will be hosted by Antrim and Newtownabbey in this month.