THE Environment Minister has given the green light for the construction of a major by-pass road to the west of Ballyclare.
Edwin Poots this week confirmed planning approval for the multi-million pound relief road scheme, which is part of the £400 million ‘Westlands’ housing project.
The overall development by Dungiven-based company Holm could see more than 2,000 new homes built to the west of the town over the next 20 years.
“This is a welcome investment boost for the area. The delivery of the long-awaited Ballyclare relief road and associated housing will bring significant social and economic benefits to the greater Ballyclare area,” Mr Poots said.
When completed, the new developer-funded road will link the Templepatrick Road, Doagh Road and Rashee Road, helping to ease traffic congestion in the town centre. Its construction will include the building of a new bridge over the Sixmilewater river.
At their monthly meeting on Monday evening (January 10), members of the council’s Planning and Consultation Committee were informed that “following detailed consideration under Article 31, the department has decided to issue a notice of opinion to approve the applications.”
Welcoming the Minister’s decision, local councillor and MLA Paul Girvan said: “Hopefully this will allow the developer to go ahead and get the road in place. The new road should help to alleviate some of the traffic problems in Ballyclare and also Doagh.”
UUP councillor Vera McWilliam said she was “very pleased” that the Minister had given the ambitious scheme the go-ahead.
“This is excellent news. The whole town has waited a long time for this,” she commented.
Stressing that the Westlands development must be fully integrated into the existing town, Danny Kinahan MLA added: “I am extremely pleased and look forward to seeing all this investment going into Ballyclare.”
It is understood that the 3.1km by-pass road will cost around £25 million to deliver and could create hundreds of jobs during the construction period.
While no-one from Holm was available for comment at the time of going to print, it is understood the company hopes to start the first phase of the road scheme - Templepatrick Road to Doagh Road - as soon as possible and complete the entire route within two years.