£350m City Deal budget announcement welcomed
Last week’s announcement from the UK Government of a £350M investment for the Belfast Region City Deal has been warmly welcomed by Newry, Mourne and Down Council.
The treasury announcement forms part of a £850 million co-investment for the city region with plans in Newry including the Southern Relief Road, regeneration work in Newry City and tourism regeneration in the Mournes.
It is hoped the Belfast Regional City Deal (BRCD) will create up to 20,000 new and better jobs alongside delivering a 10 year programme of inclusive economic growth – including an increase of £470m Gross Value Added (GVA).
It is also anticipated that direct investment from the private sector will take the overall package for inclusive growth to well over £1 billion.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairman, Councillor Mark Murnin welcomed the treasury boost and explained the benefits of the city deal for the region.
“We are delighted with the announcement of £350 million investment from Treasury announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in yesterday’s Autumn Budget, which secures a City Deal for the Belfast Region,” he said.
“We have been working intensively with our BRCD partners to secure a package of co-investment that will deliver a significant boost to the local economy in terms of inclusive economic growth and job creation.
“As a council region, we will benefit directly through investment in infrastructure. Over the coming weeks, we will be finalising our Programme of investment with partners. A Heads of Terms document will then be signed by the Secretary of State and BRCD partners, to allow full business plans to be prepared for our proposals and investment to be released.”
Mr Murnin highlighted local proposals as the development of the Southern Relief Road linking the A1 bypass of Newry City with the A2 Warrenpoint dual-carriageway; Regeneration in Newry City, and investment in tourism-led regeneration through the development of the Newcastle Gateway to the Mournes project – an initiative aimed at redefining the visitor destination experience associated with the Mourne Mountains and coastline.
“We will also benefit through investment in the provision of a focused education, employability and skills programme and believe that this Belfast Region City Deal will raise our potential as a global investment destination, while ensuring that we make a positive difference to those living in our most deprived communities.”
The President of Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade, Paul Convery, also welcomed the Belfast Region City Deal as an important step forward for the Council’s regeneration plans for the Greater Newry Area.
Commenting on the Chancellor’s announcement he said,
“As a Chamber, we hope the investment of £850m across the six District Councils will unlock key infrastructure projects for the Greater Newry Area, including the Council’s ambitious city centre regeneration projects, investment in tourism and the Southern Relief Road. Combined with recent jobs announcements from local businesses, this is further positive news for our local economy.”
The six Belfast Region City Deal partner councils Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Ards and North Down Borough Council, Belfast City Council, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council have committed £100 million investment, whilst Queen’s University and Ulster University have committed £50 million.
The ambitious set of projects spans Life and Health Sciences, Creative Industries, Advanced Manufacturing, digital development and tourism led regeneration. It’s underpinned by infrastructure developments to connect people to jobs and services.
As BRCD partners, Regional Further Education colleges Belfast Met, Northern Regional College, South Eastern Regional College and the Southern Regional College will deliver a complementary education, employability and skills programme to ensure that people gain the necessary skills to secure and deliver on the new and better paid jobs that will be created.
It’s anticipated that once the programme is finalised, a Heads of Terms document will be signed by the Secretary of State and BRCD partners in the next few weeks. This will allow full business plans to be prepared for the projects proposed under the Belfast Region City Deal and release the investment.
For more information on the proposed programme of investment, go to www.belfastcity.gov.uk/belfastregioncitydeal and follow #BRcitydeal on Twitter.