Council-owned firm to run Belfast Waterfront

Ellvena Graham and Belfast city councillor Brian Kennedy
Ellvena Graham and Belfast city councillor Brian Kennedy

Belfast City Council has established an ‘arm’s length’ private company to take over the running of its flagship public facilities from tomorrow.

Waterfront and Ulster Hall Ltd is to take over the daily running of both venues from from Friday and will be responsible for their operation and commercial growth on behalf of the council, which will continue to own both buildings.

The decision was taken by the council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee in August 2015, and ratified by full council in September last year.

The handover comes as the newly expanded venue prepares to open for business in just over a month’s time, following a £29.5 million investment from the council, Tourism Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund, through the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.

Belfast Lord Mayor Arder Carson, will officially open the new facilities on Friday 29 April, with the first business event - the NI Chamber Champions Dinner 2016 - taking place on Wednesday 4 May, ahead of the first major conference - the annual International Surgical Congress of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (ASGBI) - on 11-13 May.

“This is good news for both Belfast Waterfront and ratepayers, as it puts the venue in the best position possible to achieve our ambition to transform Belfast into a major destination for international business tourism,” explained Cllr Brian Kennedy, chair of the committee. Ltd Shareholders Committee.

“Commercial flexibility is essential in competing with other cities to attract the biggest and best events to Belfast, and ensuring that we fully maximise the potential of this investment to be a major stepping stone in the city’s development.”

Ellvena Graham, chair of the new company’s board, said staff were looking forward to welcoming the first delegates to the new look facilities, which have doubled in size to host up to 5,000 visitors.

“This is the start of an exciting new chapter in Belfast Waterfront’s history, and both the board and employees are hugely excited about the journey ahead,” she said.

“With over 20,000 people expected through our doors in the first six months of opening, and more than 30 national and international events already on our books for the first three years, we are confident of creating a fantastic experience for our customers which really sells Belfast to the rest of the world and helps re-affirm the Waterfront as a key driver in the city’s economic growth.”