As one of the most affordable cities in the UK, Belfast is a capital like no other – offering a quaint lifestyle with an ever-increasing diverse talent pool, the city continues to attract investors and new residents. 

With the hope that Brexit will bring a new era of growth for the city, giving Northern Ireland access to both British and European markets, the future of Belfast could welcome much-needed inward investment into the region. 

However, as Britain gradually diverges from EU regulations and tension increases, what does this mean for the future of the city? 

  • Will the upward curve of inward investment continue?
  • What industries have been resilient during this time and what demands has this put on the built environment? 
  • How is the city supporting business during this time?
  • What priorities have been emphasised over the past year and how are they being implemented?


Mark Blair, partner, Shoosmiths

Blair is a real estate partner and head of Shoosmiths’ Belfast office, specialising in development and investment transactions in the commercial and residential sectors and with significant expertise in managing large portfolio projects, including corporate-led transactions. He also has expertise in construction law, the structuring of mixed-use developments and the drafting and negotiation of s76 planning agreements. He is one of the leading commercial real estate lawyers in the province and has led on many of the largest and most significant real estate deals in Northern Ireland in recent years.

Gareth Howell, divisional director, Savills, Belfast

Howell has 17 years’ experience as a chartered surveyor, advising clients on all manner of property matters across the UK. He is currently responsible for office agency in Belfast, including advising UK property companies and investors on the Belfast market. In addition to this, he is the key contact for tenant advisory work within the Belfast office providing advice on lease renewals and rent reviews within this sector.

Alistair Reed, strategic director of place and economy, Belfast City Council

Reid joined Belfast City Council in May 2018 and leads on planning, economic development, culture and regeneration. An experienced and passionate city placemaker, he was brought up in Edinburgh, studied in Glasgow, and has held a range of city development roles in Belfast, Bristol and Leicester. He is a successful leader of major projects in regeneration, highways, transportation, culture, community and physical development.

Chair: Samantha McClary, editor, EG

McClary has almost 20 years’ experience in real estate and business journalism, covering a wide range of topics. Alongside making sure EG delivers the best, most helpful, most accurate and, of course, most interesting content to EG’s readership across all platforms – print, online and audio – she also plays a leading role in enabling and delivering a more diverse environment for the real estate community through EG’s REWIRE and tech initiatives. A keen chair and regular wearer of too bright trousers, McClary seeks to help keep panel discussions and events lively with audience participation and insightful questioning.

The Future of Belfast

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