Plans to expand the Belfast Rapid Transport scheme to Antrim and Newtownabbey could get the green light as part of the Belfast Region City Deal.
It is understood an investment of £450 million will be pumped into local infrastructure projects as part of the deal.
Following months of intensive preparations, Belfast Region City Deal partners submitted their ambitious negotiating position to the NI Secretary of State and Westminster on September 28, with the aim of securing £1bn of investment from a number of sources.
Antrim and Newtownabbey’s Mayor, Cllr Paul Michael welcomed the Belfast Region City Deal proposal and the boost it will give the area.
Cllr Michael said: “The deal seeks to secure a £1 billion investment with £450 million sought from the UK Treasury to support digital and innovation projects, to be delivered over a 10-year period including a major development by Queen’s University Belfast.
“Queen’s propose establishing an advanced manufacturing innovation centre to promote the adoption of new manufacturing and material technologies and deliver productivity improvements.
“This facility will operate at the interface between academia and industry, accelerating new technology developments and will see the development of 8,000 square metres of floor space. We are delighted that the borough is being considered as one of the potential locations for this facility.”
He added: “Other aspects of the proposition will see an investment of £450 million in infrastructure, including the expansion of the Belfast Rapid Transit or Glider project into Antrim and Newtownabbey. A suite of employability and skills programmes will support those in the labour market to upskill and progress whilst enabling others into employment for the first time.
“Tourism-led regeneration also features in the proposition and we were delighted that on September 24, HBO announced their intentions to secure the legacy of Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland, by opening up four of the existing film sets as visitor experiences – including the Winterfell Castle in Moneyglass.”
Belfast Region City Deal is made up of a collaboration of Ulster University, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast Metropolitan College and the other further education colleges, the private sector, Antrim and Newtownabbey Council, Ards and North Down Borough Council, Belfast City Council, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.