Belfast Region City Deal
City Deals are bespoke packages of investment funding and decision-making powers negotiated between UK central government and local authorities.
The Belfast Region City Deal (BRCD) aims to deliver a step change in the region’s economic fortunes and help achieve the partner vision of inclusive growth. Supported by UK Government and NI Executive funding the £1 billion deal involves the collaboration of councils and education partners with input and co-investment from the private sector. The City Deal investment package includes funding for three key projects in the Mid and East Antrim Borough namely, the expansion of the Gobbins Coastal tourism attraction, the regeneration of the historic settlement of Carrickfergus and the development of the i4C Innovation and Clean Technology Centre at Saint Patrick’s Barricks regeneration site in Ballymena.
Also note that under the BRCD Innovation and Digital Pillar there are likely to be future competitive calls issued by their Project Management Office seeking industry application i.e challenge type funding for thematic challenge areas.
BRCD Council Partners
BRCD Education Partners
Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council
Queen’s University Belfast
Ards and North Down Borough Council
Belfast City Council
Belfast Metropolitan College
Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council
Northern Regional College
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council
South Eastern Regional College
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council
Southern Regional College
Gobbins Phase II: Added Value Visitor Experience
Council is set to secure some £12m City Deal funding to extend The Gobbins Cliff and Coastal Path at Islandmagee potentially doubling the path length to 1.5miles. This will deliver a new enhanced adventure experience similar to other examples such as the Cheddar Gorge and the Lake District in the UK.
This project will further expand and enhance the unique Gobbins coastal walkway experience that was reopened to the visitors in 2014 after a significant investment. The attraction has proved to a huge success with both domestic and international visitors and the Council ambition is to further extend and enhance the attraction by extending the path and make a circular route that will accommodate more visitors.
Council is set to secure up to £38m City Deal funding to develop Carrickfergus as a must visit tourism destination and take in its twelfth century castle and seventeenth century town walls. This City Deal investment is matched by an additional £9m central government funding package for improvements to the transport system including the railway link to Belfast while private sector match funding includes a recent Virgin Media investment in the towns broadband infrastructure.
The Carrickfergus project represents a programme of investment to regenerate, reposition and re-brand the historic coastal town of Carrickfergus placing it firmly on the map as an authentic heritage-led tourism hub, part of the wider Belfast Story and the ‘must visit’ starting point to the internationally recognised Causeway Coastal Tourism Route.
This will include the development of the Carrickfergus Castle visitor experience, the reimaging of the historic town walls and upgrade and investment in the surrounding town public realm.
i4C Innovation Centre and Regeneration of Saint Patrick’s Barracks, Ballymena
Saint Patrick’s Barracks Regeneration
The current planned investment at the Saint Patrick’s Barracks site in Ballymena is in excess of £125m and includes: over 2km of new roads infrastructure, 139 units of social and affordable housing by Radius Housing, new innovation centre, leisure centre and civic developments by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and a new campus site for Northern Regional College.
Council is set to secure over £20m City Deal funding for the construction of the i4C Innovation Centre that will serve as a hub for economic growth and for the development of a wider Smart and Sustainable “Innovation District” in Ballymena.
The 9,000 sqm centre is scheduled to open in 2025 and will house a range of high quality accommodation, lab workshops and co-working space all part of an ecosystem to support collaboration and open innovation. The i4C centre will be the base for the iLAB a staffed innovation laboratory offering a range of supports and training provision including a makerspace for assisted SME commercialisation activity and cleantech suite offering supports for the sector i.e. industry training for the emerging hydrogen economy.