Major Boost for Ards and North Down from Belfast City Region Deal
Ards and North Down will receive a major economic boost after UK and NI Executive Ministers signed the first ever City Deal for Northern Ireland last month.
The Belfast Region City Deal unlocks £1 billion of transformative co-investment that will deliver more than 20 highly ambitious projects and programmes, create up to 20,000 new and better jobs and help make the region a global investment destination over the next decade.
£40m of this funding will be allocated to the Bangor Waterfront Redevelopment, a circa £75m investment, which will reconnect the town with the sea through a range of attractions and experiences.
The investment will provide high quality public spaces, a new Music Hub and will regenerate existing assets including Bangor Marina, Pickie Fun Park and watersports facilities at Ballyholme Yacht Club, enhancing the town and encouraging further investment.
An additional £5m funding will also be used to develop a proposed Innovation Hub for the digital and creative sectors in the Borough. This development will provide additional space and new opportunities for start-up businesses to become established within what is notably a growing sector as well as opportunities to develop talent and career pathways.
The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Mark Brooks, said: “This is a very significant milestone for all the partners who have worked so hard to put this deal together. It offers a ‘decade of opportunity’ for the businesses, the people, the economy and the society of our region, with funding to deliver more than 20 ambitious projects and programmes – including the Bangor Waterfront Regeneration Scheme and Innovation Hub in our own Borough.
“The deal will create up to 20,000 new and better jobs over the next 10 years. It is an investment in the huge potential that exists in Northern Ireland and offers the promise of a brighter and better future.
“I am very pleased that Ards and North Down is a partner and can share in the benefits of this transformative investment.”
David McMullan, from Ballyholme Yacht Club, said: “Ballyholme Yacht Club (BYC) is delighted to have been approved for funding from the Belfast Region City Deal.
“We welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with Ards and North Down Borough Council to enhance the provision of sailing and watersports in North Down, as part of the Waterfront Redevelopment Project. BYC has developed an enviable reputation throughout the UK, Ireland and overseas over the last 100 years for its sailing events and top class sailors.
“We believe that a new facility at Ballyholme will allow this reputation to continue to grow and expand into other developing watersports, securing its position as a premier watersports venue for the next 100 years.”
Alison Gordon, from Open House, said: “The regeneration of the waterfront is the key to Bangor’s future success as a seaside town and we’re hopeful that the Belfast Region City Deal will play a major role in making that a reality.
“Open House is excited to be part of those plans with a second phase to the old Court House, building on our rich musical heritage, and putting music once again at the forefront of the town’s cultural output.”
Alongside capital investments, the Deal has a significant focus on employability and strengthening the pipeline of skills development. This will allow local people to respond to the employment opportunities created through the various programmes and projects it will deliver.
Ken Webb, Principal and Chief Executive of South Eastern Regional College (SERC), also said:
“Our commitment to developing employability and skills, and to promoting innovation and digital confidence, means that we are more than ready to deliver on these pillars of the City Deal. We have a track record of working with local government on three Strategic Community Planning Partnerships.
“We see collaborative working with other organisations and agencies as the best way to achieve meaningful improvements in the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of the community we serve.
“The Belfast Regional City Deal strengthens and builds on existing relationships and forges new ones. Working with councils and other educational institutions we can extend our activity to promote social inclusion and skills development for the benefit of our community.”
Belfast City Region Deal will strengthen Northern Ireland’s offering in growth sectors such as life and health sciences, digital and creative industries and advanced manufacturing. It will also support next generation digital capabilities, boost tourism by creating world-class visitor experiences and enable regeneration, underpinned by infrastructure developments and investment in skills to connect people to jobs and services.
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