Belfast’s bid for Purple Flag accreditation kicked off recently as a number of stakeholders in the city completed an initial self assessment.
A delegation from the City’s Business Improvement Districts Linen Quarter, Cathedral Quarter and Belfast One were joined by representatives from Hospitality Ulster, Belfast Chamber, Translink and the PSNI took part in the exercise to health check the City Centre in the self-assessment.
Similar to the Blue Flag scheme for beaches and the Green Flag scheme for parks the Purple Flag accreditation displays that a town or city is a safe and pleasant place to visit, night and day, for residents and visitors.
The self assessment involved examining the post 5pm Belfast experience including retail, hotels, licensed venues and cultural spaces.
It also considers elements around safety, accessibility and place which all contribute to the City being a welcoming and vibrant space.
The group heard the regular weekend briefing sessions that happen between PSNI and a vast array of volunteer organisations including a briefing around missing and vulnerable persons which has helped dozens of individuals this year alone.
Chris McCracken, Managing Director at Linen Quarter BID, and Chair of Belfast’s Purple Flag steering committee, said: “Purple Flag status for the city would recognise Belfast as a truly international destination to live, work and shop. Belfast has a safe and vibrant night time economy with brand new destinations, such as the Linen Quarter, starting to emerge. However our self assessment indicates we need further investment in transport, signage, cleansing and promotion, as well as additional initiatives to support the evening offer for families, culture and arts, and non-alcoholic alternatives.”
Gareth Neill, CQ BID manager said: “It was with great reward to meet the fantastic organisations SOS BUS, Street Pastors, and Community Rescue Service who give up 1000 of volunteer hours to ensure the night-time economy is a welcoming and safe space for residents and visitors. The City Centre has significant growth ambitions for residential, commercial and tourism markets. With a significant increase in city living through the private residential market over the next 12-18 months and the ever expanding hotel sector there is a requirement to ensure that Belfast meets the aspirations of new residents, employers, and tourists, along with what is expected from an international city.”
A multi-stakeholder steering group, led by the Linen Quarter BID, is managing the business-funded project with the aim of applying in October 2019 to the governing body, the Association of Town Centre Management (ATCM) to secure Purple Flag status in February 2020.
Belfast has a significantly younger population so part of the task force’s outcome will be ensuring there is a vibrant, mixed use and quality City Centre which is vital to catalysing additional economic rejuvenation.
Clare Maguire, Managing Director at Belfast One said: “Providing a quality and unique offering will also be of huge benefit to some of the 250,000 business visitors to Belfast annually or for the national conference market which currently stands at 60,000 attendees (£45m p/annum) who all want a vibrant and enriched experience of the City.
“Currently the City Centre does not have one managed approach to its evening economy strategy. There are a vast array of stakeholders and partnerships in play and Purple Flag allows a coordinated and programmed opportunity.”
For more information go to cathedralquarterbelfast.com