Ministers Unveil 3D Digital Model Of Belfast

A stunning 3D digital model of Belfast that has been produced using the latest technology to map out the impact of future city developments was unveiled today for the first time at a major conference in Belfast.

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness were among the first delegates to view the model as they attended Belfast City Council's Future City conference at the MAC.

The 3D digital model, which is being developed by the University of Ulster's Built Environment Research Institute and supported by the council, will be continually updated and take into account emerging and latest technologies.

It can be used for a range of purposes including the viewing of proposed new developments in situ and facilitate dealing with issues like traffic management and emergency planning for problems such as potential flooding. The University of Ulster and the council will consider how it can be made more widely available to other stakeholders in the city during the coming months.

The focus of today's conference was the development of a new Masterplan for the city taking into account that the reform of local government will see the council become responsible for planning, regeneration, community planning and wellbeing in 2015.

The conference will see the start of discussions around establishing the strategic priorities for the development of the city and its economy. A review document of the previous Masterplan, produced by the council in 2004, aims to engage with the city's key stakeholders about the kind of physical development that will drive competitiveness for Belfast.

Among those speaking at today's conference was Professor Michael Parkinson, of Liverpool John Moore's University, who is a recognised expert on city competitiveness and has conducted extensive research on Belfast and other cities.

He said: "Belfast has been performing at a high level during recent years. From 1997 through to 2008, Belfast had the highest growth of GVA (Gross Value Added –the value of all goods and services produced in a country/city) per capita with an increase of 73 per cent – second only to London.

"Between 2008 and 2011, during the time of economic recession, Belfast experienced the highest growth of GVA per capita at 4.5 per cent as London experienced decline.

"Belfast's main issue is that the public sector in Belfast is still too large as the private sector needs more room to grow. On the positive side, public administration, education and health sectors in Belfast achieved the highest GVA per capita in 2010, with Edinburgh second.

"Belfast's potential for future progress is bright due to a number of assets, including high skill levels, quality retail, the cultural and tourism offering, the universities` physical and research, and the investment in landmark physical developments such as Victoria Square, Titanic Belfast and the MAC."


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