Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Council plans could bring us prosperity

No one can accuse Belfast City Council of not aiming high enough with its development plans for the city.

The ambitious programme of work, costing £150m over the next three years, covers a wide range of sectors and if realised, could transform the city and the prospects of its citizens.

As the capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast is a key economic driver for the region. When it is prospering then the fortunes of the rest of the province are uplifted.

Some of the projects, as our exclusive report shows, will have far reaching potential. While some may question if there is a need for a major extension to the Waterfront Hall, given the number of facilities currently available in the city and elsewhere, it can be argued that the high value international conference market is well worth pursuing. However it is a gamble given that the facility currently runs at a loss every year.

The Council is to be commended for it vision for regenerating the economy and helping those - particularly young people - who face bleak job prospects.

Plans to build a green business park and an innovation centre and to upgrade the city's digital footprint and facilities tick many of the boxes that the business community have been pressing for. While the economy is very sluggish at the moment, it is an opportune time to prepare for better days so that the city can hit the ground running in the race for new jobs.

And it has to be said that the often derided local authority's proposals are in stark contrast to the Executive's own Programme for Government which is still going through the consultation process at a glacial pace. Maybe some of the City Council's proposals smack more of a wish list than a reality, but there is certainly enough there to make a significant and positive contribution to economic and social stimulus.

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