‘Funding must be found for Ballyclare bypass project’

The Readers Park development at Rashee Road, Ballyclare. INNT 09-031-FP
The Readers Park development at Rashee Road, Ballyclare. INNT 09-031-FP
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Local political representatives have called on the Northern Ireland Executive to find funding for the long-awaited Ballyclare relief road scheme.

KPL Contracts, the company behind the £25million project - part of the ambitious Ballyclare West development - was placed into administration last week.

The Co Londonderry-based firm carried out work for many of the country’s main utility companies. It has now ceased trading and all 202 workers have been made redundant.

While the utility contracts part of the firm had been performing well, the Holm NI property development section of the business had significant borrowings relating to its Readers Park development on Rashee Road and other planned housing schemes in the area.

The firm’s last set of accounts, filed in December, reveal losses of millions of pounds and state that the lands earmarked for the Ballyclare West housing and relief road development have been sold.

South Antrim MLA Danny Kinahan, who raised the issue in the Assembly last week, said that the company’s sad demise must not spell the end for the relief road plan.

He stressed that the link road between Templepatrick Road, Doagh Road and Rashee Road must be progressed.

“The Enterprise Minister, the Finance Minister and the Roads Minister must work together to find some kind of public/private finance package to finance the bypass.

“We can’t just let this sit in limbo. It’s just not Ballyclare that will benefit from this road, but also the surrounding areas like Doagh,” he commented.

The DUP’s Paul Girvan added: “It’s sad that more than 200 people have lost their jobs as a result of this, and our thoughts are with them. But I think it is vitally important that we don’t lose the momentum of driving forward to get the much-needed bypass road put in place. We need to lobby to get some public money put in to make sure this road project happens. It is vital for the future growth of Ballyclare.”

It’s understood that Alliance MLA David Ford is seeking a meeting with the Regional Development Minister to see if the bypass project can be taken forward.

Alliance Councillor Pat McCudden said he was “deeply saddened” by the news that KPL had ceased trading, but added that he hopes the Ballyclare West project will still go ahead.

“Around 2,000 homes would have been built and it would have been the first privately provided relief road, which would have dramatically reduced congestion in the town.

“Ballyclare is not developing at the rate one would want. This project would have helped attract people to the town and would have helped boost local businesses.

“I would suggest to the DRD Minister that if money is not being spent on the A5 project, then perhaps it could be redirected to this scheme which is shovel ready. I will continue to lobby for this project to go ahead,” he commented.