Consultants have been tasked to draw up plans for a potential multi-million pound redevelopment project in the heart of Glengormley.
Newtownabbey Borough Council is exploring the possibility of working with a range of public and private sector partners to redevelop the Glenwell Road area, from Tramways up to the disused police station site.
The strip of land alongside the Antrim Road is currently home to a number of retail and entertainment businesses, including the Movie House Cinema and Sportsbowl.
But the council is hoping to secure the backing of existing business owners, private investors and the Department for Social Development for an ambitious economic regeneration project which could see a modern purpose-built entertainments complex, restaurants and other business units constructed at the site.
While the council’s Development Committee has already agreed to spend £10,000 on appointing consultants to draw up a concept plan for the area, the success of the project would depend on getting agreement from land and business owners, as well as securing significant private sector investment.
A key aspect of the project would involve the redevelopment of Glengormley Police Station, which closed to the public in June 2012. And the council has already expressed an interest in purchasing the disused Antrim Road barracks.
It’s understood that the site, which is also wanted by the Housing Executive for a social housing development, has been valued at £135,000.
The local authority will make a final decision on whether or not to try to purchase the police station site following the completion of the concept plan, which will determine the level of private sector interest in the Glenwell redevelopment project.
The council has asked the PSNI, which is keen to expedite the sale of the property during the current financial year, to hold off on a decision until December to allow the concept plan exercise to be completed.
DUP Councillor Phillip Brett, who along with party colleagues has already met with DSD officials to discuss the potential for development at the site, said it is important that the council and politicians work with the private sector and local residents to develop a vision for the area.
Cllr Brett said the construction of an entertainment complex comprising a cinema, restaurants and other attractions, similar to the Eastpoint Entertainment Village in Dundonald, could be “a wide ranging game changer for Glengormley.”
Alliance Alderman John Blair described the potential regeneration project as “a very exciting opportunity” which could have “a positive impact well beyond the greater Glengormley area.”
And with funding streams being diverted from government departments to the new councils as they take on responsibility for community development, he stressed that “exciting job creation opportunities could be achieved to the benefit of everyone with no immediate financial implications for ratepayers.”