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Brussels, 22 January 2001

Urban II programme : European Union contributes Euro 10.6 million to urban regeneration in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Michel Barnier, Commissioner responsible for regional policy, announced the approval by the European Commission of a programme for urban regeneration in the Belfast area of Northern Ireland. This URBAN Community Initiative Programme will provide over € 10.6 million from the European Union over the period 2000-2006. The European funding has attracted € 5.6 million in further investment from the public sector and € 0.9 million from the private sector, creating total resources of € 17.1 million. Priorities will include projects for the renewal of the area and training and employment measures.

Announcing the decision, Michel BARNIER said: "The URBAN Initiative is a creative and innovative approach to urban regeneration. These programmes have a strong "grassroots" emphasis, involving local people at all stages in the decision making process. The programme for Belfast is no exception. It mobilises a strong local partnership and I fully endorse the programme priorities of physical and social resources and of people resources. I am confident that this programme will make a substantial contribution to urban regeneration in the Belfast area."

The programme area covers parts of six electoral wards(1) in Inner North Belfast, an area with a population of 30,385. The area suffers from severe multiple deprivation, as well as from a patchwork of sectarian territory and increasing rates of violence and intimidation, which has outlasted the formal end to the conflict in Northern Ireland.

The programme aims to tackle the problems with two main priorities:

  • Physical and social resources. Key actions include the creation of a safe, attractive and healthy environment to live in, as well as the treatment of contested areas and interface zones (Community contribution: € 5.8 million);

  • People resources. Key actions include addressing barriers to access to employment and seeking to break the cycle of educational underachievement and unemployment (Community contribution: € 3.7 million).

An additional amount of about € 1 million of Community contribution will finance technical assistance.

As with all URBAN programmes, this programme will be funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the responsibility of Mr Barnier.


The aim of the URBAN Community Initiative is the "economic and social regeneration of cities and of neighbourhoods in crisis in order to promote sustainable urban development". The second round of URBAN ("URBAN II") will cover the period 2000-2006, supporting 70 deprived urban areas across the EU. Total funding from the EU alone will be € 728.3 million and this will attract at least as much again in matched funding from both public and private sectors.

The total URBAN allocation for the United Kingdom amounts to € 121.7 million. Programmes have been submitted for West Wrexham, Belfast, Bristol, Burnley, Halifax, Hetton and Murton, Normanton/Derby, Peterborough, Stockwell, Thames Gateway and Clyde Waterfront.

A particular feature of URBAN II is the development of innovative models for urban regeneration. Another feature is a strong emphasis on partnership and on involving local actors. There will also be an exchange of information and experience on sustainable urban development across the European Union.

URBAN II is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Funding is available for initiatives such as the renovation of buildings and public spaces, local employment initiatives, the improvement of education and training systems for disadvantaged groups, the development of environmentally friendly public transport systems, the introduction of more efficient energy management systems and the use of renewable energy, developing the potential created by information society technologies.

The Commission adopts programmes which are proposed by a partnership including local and community groups. These programmes run for the whole of the period 2000-2006 and local actors are involved at all stages in this process.

Managing Authority

Department for Social Development, Northern Ireland.

Brookmount Buildings

42 Fountain Street

Belfast BT1 5EE

Phone: 028 9056 9100


More detailed information on the URBAN Community Initiative may be found in MEMO/01/301 of 25 September or at the following websites :

European Commission:

Department for Social Development :

(1) Ardoyne, St Annes, Waterworks, Duncairn, New Lodge and Crumlin.

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