Newtownabbey Borough Council is considering purchasing the disused police station site in the centre of Glengormley.
At their monthly meeting on Monday night (March 31), members agreed that the council should express a formal interest in acquiring the property.
The issue was discussed behind closed doors ‘in committee’, but the Times understands that members were informed that the Antrim Road site has been valued at £135,000.
“The council agreed to submit an Expression of Interest to Land and Property Services regarding the site at the former police station. It was also agreed that a consultation process, including a needs analysis, would be undertaken to determine potential future uses of the building and land,” a council spokesperson said.
“Council officers confirmed that the completion of the Expression of Interest form does not commit the council to acquiring the land.”
Welcoming the council’s approval of his proposal to express an interest in the former police station, DUP Councillor Phillip Brett said: “Expressing an interest in the site is the continuation of our work in driving forward the regeneration and redevelopment of Glengormley.
“The former police station site lends itself to a number of proposals, including economic development, retail and leisure.
“A consultation process with local stakeholders, including businesses, the Chamber of Commerce and local community groups will now begin to seek their input into the site’s development.
“It is imperative that whatever takes shape at this site, that it is accessible to the whole community and serves the needs of the residents of Glengormley.”
Cllr Brett had previously suggested that the council might be interested in using the site as a recycling centre. However, it’s understood that the local authority is now considering an alternative location for such a project elsewhere in Glengormley.
The police station closed to the public in June 2012 and the PSNI is now taking steps to dispose of the property.
The Northern Ireland Housing Executive has already expressed a formal interest in acquiring the site for social housing - a move that sparked a bitter row between Sinn Fein and DUP representatives earlier this year.
While Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly called for the site to be used for social housing, DUP politicians claimed that such a move wouldn’t address identified housing need in the area, which they claim exists in Glenvarna and Queens Park.
Indeed, during a meeting at Stormont last month, a delegation of DUP politicians asked senior Housing Executive officials to withdraw their interest in the police station site. However, the Executive has confirmed that it is still considering the land at Glenwell Road as a potential location for a new social housing development.