A ‘City Deal’ for Belfast could bring considerable economic benefits for the Lisburn area, it has been claimed.
In last week’s budget the Chancellor paved the way to “open negotiations” for a Belfast City Deal - a 10-year investment plan focussed on boosting the economy, creating jobs, improving infrastructure and ensuring economic growth reaches all areas.
Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has welcomed the prospect of a City Deal for the Belfast region, stressing that such a move could have significant benefits for the Lisburn and Castlereagh area.
“I welcome the confirmation by the Chancellor in his budget that the first of a series of city deals we had agreed with the government in our Confidence and Supply Agreement is now to be delivered. In fact this first City Deal is for the ‘Belfast region’ and not just Belfast City Council area, so it will include Lisburn & Castlereagh,” the DUP man said.
“The City Deal will help to attract significant government funding for important projects in the city region and it is therefore vital that Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council identifies suitable projects, including improvements to our infrastructure, so that they can be included in the deal. This could include improvements to our local transport routes such as creating a motorway link between the M1 and the Maze Development site, as well as enhancing visitor attractions. All such projects will be evaluated before funding decisions are taken and I will be working closely with the council to ensure that Lisburn is well placed to take advantage of this investment opportunity.”
Stressing that they are already working to identify key projects to be part of any potential City Deal, a spokesperson for Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council commented: “Lisburn & Castlereagh is part of a wider geographical ‘travel to work ‘ area which will be represented as part of the Belfast Region City Deal Proposition. This proposition will concentrate on key priority areas of infrastructure, innovation and employability and skills.
“The council is actively engaging with the lead consultants in identifying key projects which they wish to be considered within the City Deal Scheme.
“All proposals put forward will be subject to a scoring mechanism in order to maximise both the community and economic benefits for the region.”
City Deals give local areas specific powers and freedoms to help the region support economic growth, create jobs or invest in local projects. They have proven successful in other parts of the UK, and there are now growing calls for areas in Northern Ireland to be given a similar economic boost.