The new Belfast Region City Deal Council Panel met for the first time today, Wednesday 23 October at Belfast City Hall to review progress as business cases are prepared for this transformative programme of regional investment.

Made up of four nominees from each partner council, (Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Ards and North Down Borough Council, Belfast City Council, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council), the Panel will support effective political engagement as business cases are prepared for the 22 proposed City Deal projects.

Alderman Brian Kingston, who chaired the Panel’s meeting today in Belfast commented:

Our success in securing the first City Deal in Northern Ireland is thanks to the unprecedented levels of collaboration between the Belfast Region partner councils, Queen’s University, Ulster University and the regional Further Education Colleges, working with government and private sector partners to achieve our ambitions for inclusive economic growth.

So our focus as a Council Panel will be continuing to embed that collegiate approach as we progress business cases for our 22 ambitious projects and an underpinning employability and skills programme. A successful City Deal is about so much more than our individual areas – it’s about working together to ensure that we benefit people living in the whole region – so that we connect them to more and better jobs and opportunities, and attract investment to the region. Together, we want to deliver inclusive, transformative regional regeneration, strengthen our economy and boost our prosperity.

The Belfast Region City Deal will see the UK Government invest £350 million into the Belfast Region over the next 15 years. It’s proposed that this figure will be matched by the Northern Ireland Departments. The City Deal will be further bolstered by co-investment of upwards of £150 million from Belfast Region City Deal partners and investment by the private sector is anticipated to bring the total investment package to over £1 billion.

The ambitious programme will help grow the region’s business strengths in growth sectors, such as life and health sciences, digital and creative industries, and advanced manufacturing. It will also support next generation digital capabilities and tourism-led regeneration across the entire region, underpinned by infrastructure developments and investment in skills to connect people to jobs and services.