The Minister for Communities, Paul Givan MLA, today launched Belfast’s second Business Improvement District (BID), marking the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, Smithfield and Union, Corporation Square and Laganside areas.
Minister Givan said: “The launch of the Destination CQ BID today is testimony to the passion and dedication of local business owners and cultural organisations who are determined to help the area to reach its maximum potential.
“Belfast’s historic Cathedral Quarter is already the City Centre’s cultural heart, home to many of the city’s leading cultural venues, organisations and festivals, as well as providing a vibrant mix of hospitality, business and public organisations. Through their collaboration with the Northern Ireland BIDs Academy, which was established and funded by my Department, the Destination CQ BID received invaluable support from experienced practitioners to help them continue to grow and develop.
Over the last 2 years the Northern Ireland BIDs Academy has supported 6 pilot BID areas through a programme of capacity-building and training to get them from inception to ballot. Destination CQ is the latest pilot location to officially launch their BID.
Chair of the Destination CQ BID, Paul McErlean says: “The Destination CQ BID plan is an ambitious collective vision for this very special area of Belfast. Following extensive local consultation and an intensive planning process by our taskforce group, our community of over 600 businesses and organisations were invited to vote to adopt a tangible plan for the area. A phenomenal 84% of votes cast were in favour of establishing Destination CQ BID to deliver this plan, which will not only positively impact the BID area itself, but the city as a whole. We are thrilled to now begin bringing these plans to life and developing them over the coming five years.”
Róisín McGarr, the newly appointed Manager of Destination CQ BID adds: “Destination CQ will enhance and amplify the vibrant culture, heritage and nightlife of the area through a range of projects and partnerships, developing the distinctive character of the whole neighbourhood. With its excellent range of restaurants, cafes, hotels, businesses, venues, galleries, festivals and cultural events, the Destination CQ BID area perfectly complements the high street retail focus in nearby Belfast One BID, combining into a compelling and varied offering for everyone to enjoy all that this great city has to offer.”
Patricia Freedman, Board member and Director of the Cathedral Quarter Trust says: “The process which has led us to the Destination CQ BID launch today has been a constructive and productive experience. The enthusiasm and involvement of so many businesses and organisations in developing the vision has enriched the plan in so many ways. We have also been fortunate to have the support of Belfast City Council, Tourism NI and the Department for Communities throughout the development process, and we are very excited about working closely with these strategic partners as we deliver the Destination CQ BID plan over the next five years.”
Improvements will be funded by an annual levy of 1.5% on the rateable value of the businesses and organisations in the BID area, representing an investment of c.£1.7 million in the area over the next five years.