COUNCILLOR Mark Cosgrove and North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds have said they are hopeful “common sense will prevail” and Transport Minister Danny Kennedy will put the brakes on a controversial park and ride scheme in Ballyhenry.
The reprentatives made the call after Minister Kennedy visited the site and met with them and residents affected by the scheme.
The park and ride plan had bounced around the planning system for the best part of 10 years and had received over 900 objections. Initially the site had been planned for 137 car parking spaces, but a scheme for 92 spaces was approved last November.
Work was scheduled to begin in December on building the £250,000 facility, however, at the last minute the plan was halted for the Minister to further consider the plan.
Following Monday’s visit to the site on the Ballyhenry Road, Nigel Dodds said: “I am pleased that the Minister has now seen the site for himself and has heard directly from residents of their strong concerns.
“Construction of this facility would create a large unsupervised car park, open 24 hours a day, within yards of their homes. They are deeply concerned that this will create a magnet for anti-social behaviour and disruption directly behind their homes.”
He went on: “I met with the Minister before Christmas and invited him to come out for this site visit. He has now seen the proximity to local housing in the Dorchester and Ballyhenry area and residents have been able to express their views directly to him. The Minister has yet to make a final decision and we await that outcome but I am hopeful that common sense will prevail and that this scheme will be stopped.”
Councillor Mark Cosgrove added: “I am pleased to be able to help out those residents who are directly affected by this development. This is an important issue as over 900 people made representations about this park and ride scheme.
“This meeting is a good example of how devolution should work with local representatives working hand in hand with their ministerial colleagues to ensure community concerns are heard.
“I am hopeful the minister will come to the correct decision for those residents of Ballyhenry and Dorchester Drive.”
He added: “I am in favour of an integrated transport strategy for Newtownabbey including park and ride scheme’s at vital locations within the borough which will provide much better value for money than adding on a small amount of spaces on or at Northern Ireland’s busiest junctions.”
The Minister thanked the representatives and the residents for “presenting the case in such a constructive and helpful manner”.
A Roads Service spokesman said: “The Minister has given an assurance to residents that he will give further consideration to the matter.”