Northern Ireland

Belfast rates to rise to pay for planned £150m city revamp

Households and businesses in Belfast face a rates rise of 2.6% from April to help fund a £150m investment programme in the city.

Belfast City Council unanimously approved the rise on Wednesday evening - saying it was the lowest increase in a decade.

It will mean the average household bill going up by 35p per week and £2.86 for businesses.

The council said the rise was well below the rate of inflation.

The proposed multi-million pounds development includes a £20m extension to the Waterfront Hall to boost its potential as convention venue.

Overhaul

Speaking in the council chamber, the SDLP's Tim Attwood said it was a remarkable moment.

"We have to have ambition for this city," he said.

"This is only the beginning of the journey, hopefully, that collectively this council can now start looking at a 20-year plan and set out a vision for that."

The council said the money would not just come from rates, but also from Europe and Stormont.

Half of the £150m will be used to overhaul its facilities as part of its three-year plan.

The Waterfront Hall will be just one of a number of areas to benefit, with significant spending also earmarked for council leisure facilities and the old Floral Hall building within the grounds of Belfast Zoo.

A total of £34m is pledged to support economic growth and £29m for community development.

The aim of the programme, according to the council, is to support business and create employment. It has cross-party support.

Belfast City Council will officially outline the details of the investment initiative to political and business leaders at the Waterfront Hall on Thursday.

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