Belfast Chamber has launched a new policy paper which calls for concerted action across local and central government to help make Belfast a more investible city.  Entitled ‘Moving Belfast Forward’, the report argues that if Belfast is to meet its ambitions in terms of population growth, economic development and combating societal and environmental challenges like climate change, then the city needs to ‘up its game’ and reform how it sells itself to investors, how investors are guided through their investment journeys and the kind of public private partnerships that are put in pace to encourage scale regeneration.

Developed with the help of a group of regeneration experts, ‘Moving Belfast Forward’ sets out 15 recommendations build around 5 themes – Proposition, Process, Prioritisation, Partnerships and Planning – and include suggestions such as:

  • Belfast should develop a renewed investment proposition, backed up by infrastructure investment plans and financial stimulants, that emphasises our innovation and talent assets and the need for new developments, such as build to rent housing, that support those strengths;
  • The creation of a ‘one stop shop’ for investment and regeneration in Belfast, headed up by one senior official and led by Belfast City Council, but with partners drawn from relevant departments and agencies like the Department for Infrastructure and the Department for Communities co-located alongside their City Hall colleagues that can help overcome the disconnect that currently exists;
  • Consideration should be given to the appropriate and bets delivery vehicle that could help bring investment projects to fruition and that this should include investment zones and development corporations; and
  • The inclusion of necessary legislative changes that can create a more fit for purpose planning system as a priority in any incoming Executive’s Programme for Government.


Commenting, Belfast Chamber’s Regeneration Policy Working Group Chair Tom Stokes said, “Over the course of the past few decades, Belfast has been on an unprecedented regeneration journey. The city has benefited from an astounding amount of positive change that we continue to see today. 

However, in spite of all of that positive change, there is an impatience for more improvement. As Belfast has changed, so have other cities and, in many cases, our competitor cities have moved forward faster. Genuine concerns exist at the speed of change and the ability of the city to facilitate the level of regeneration required to fully take advantage of Belfast’s economic edge in the years ahead. 

The continued renewal of Belfast is absolutely critical to the economic success of our entire region’s economy. Despite the good progress we now require ‘a best in class approach’ to successfully compete for the crucial resources of investment and talent that Belfast needs to push forward at pace.

Belfast’s regeneration is not about growth for growth’s sake. It is about enhancing our city’s ability to overcome the challenges it faces. Many of the moves required are understood and articulated in various plans and reports. More dense, city-based development is crucial in combating climate change. Building more residential accommodation for students, young professionals and families creates communities that will endure. Additional spaces for employment can help us achieve inclusive growth.

There is no doubt that Belfast possesses a huge amount of untapped potential. To realise that potential, it will take a focused, cohesive effort from all of the City’s key stakeholders in order to see continued delivery of projects that meet the needs of the people of Belfast and enact progressive change in line with the shared ambitions set out in the Belfast Agenda”.

Belfast Chamber President Alana Coyle added, “Belfast Chamber wants to see our city continue to grow and enable Belfast to compete for investment and talent. We recognise the progress we’ve made – much of it driven by Belfast Chamber members. However, we are conscious that other cities aren’t static and continue to press ahead with their own regeneration and if we don’t overcome some of the barriers to our city’s growth, then we run the risk of falling further behind. 

‘Moving Belfast Forward and its recommendations is intended to be a positive contribution to an ongoing dialogue with city leaders aimed at delivering much needed regeneration, aiding investment into the region, attracting and retaining talent and encouraging the creation of a people centred city.

Belfast Chamber looks forward to engaging with decision makers to take forward our recommendations and, ultimately, working together to help Belfast achieve its ambitions and meet its potential”.

File Type Size Date
Belfast Chamber Moving Belfast Forward 14 MB 20th June 2023