By Rebecca Black, PA
The formal sign off of a “monumental” £1 billion (€1.1 billion) city deal for the Belfast region has been welcomed.
The deal, first announced in 2019, includes £350 million in funding from Stormont and £350m from Westminster, and is set to fund 20 projects across six council areas.
It aims to create 20,000 jobs over the next ten to 15 years.
NEW: Today I signed the Head of Terms on the Belfast Region City Deal - this £1billion joint investment will help level up the whole of Northern Ireland, ensuring businesses have the tools they need to be at the forefront of industries of the future. 🚀 pic.twitter.com/sWm42hSSFh
— Brandon Lewis (@BrandonLewis) December 15, 2021
Secretary of State Brandon Lewis described the deal as an economic “turbocharge”.
“Built on a foundation of exceptional talent, creativity and innovation, it is no surprise that Belfast is already ranked in the top 25 tech cities in the world, and this funding, which will exceed £1 billion, represents a significant opportunity for us to turbocharge the industries of tomorrow,” he said.
“The UK government and NI Executive have each committed up to £350 million to the BRCD and the BRCD partners will contribute a further £150 million. By leveraging additional private sector investment, the partners will deliver a programme with an overall value well over £1 billion.”
First Minister Paul Givan described it as a “monumental investment”.
“As an executive, we support the innovation and optimism which exists not just here in Belfast, but across the region. And we want to see Northern Ireland thrive,” he said.
“Our four City and Growth Deals will help to tackle regional imbalance and allow for additional regional regeneration. They will deliver a balanced spread of benefits across Northern Ireland, expanding connectivity and improving the lives of all our citizens.”
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said the Belfast deal will be “truly transformative for the regional economy and for the people of the area”.
“The scale of the investment reflects the enormous ambition, potential and capability, which is present throughout this whole region,” she said.
“Today’s milestone signing is a significant achievement for all the partners who have worked tirelessly to deliver this deal, and it is an excellent example of what can be achieved when we work together to co-design and co-deliver for the benefit of all our people.”
Finance Minister Conor Murphy added: “This £1 billion investment is a game changer for the north.
“The projects funded by this deal will create thousands of jobs right across the region. Social value criteria will be used in the award of contracts delivering strong social and environmental benefits including Living Wage jobs.”
The Belfast Region City Deal was signed today! The £1bn investment is going to create so many opportunities for our region over the next decade. Well done to everyone involved, such an inspirational example of what really working together can achieve 🙌 #BCRdeal pic.twitter.com/PTpkSTblQ1
— Kate Nicholl (@KateNicholl) December 15, 2021
Belfast Lord Mayor Kate Nicholl described a “momentous day for the Belfast region”.
“Thanks to cross-party political support, private sector backing and unprecedented levels of collaboration from all of the Belfast region partners, we’ve succeeded in securing this significant, long-term commitment to transforming the NI economy in the sectors where we have the potential to become world leaders,” she said.
“The deal comes at a critical time, as we work to help local businesses and communities recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. A decade of opportunity starts now.”
Some of the proposed projects include a £55m fund for Belfast region innovation and a £300m investment for five industry centres of excellence across Northern Ireland in manufacturing, healthcare and media.
There are also proposed regeneration projects for Bangor seafront, Hillsborough, Carrickfergus and Newry.