A MONKSTOWN historian has hailed the importance of maintaining the borough’s rich and varied heritage.
The call comes after the Department of Environment revealed it was carrying out an investigation into a possible breach of planning control on a Monkstown housing development.
Newtownabbey Borough Council has also said it has received numerous complaints claiming the Aspen View development blocks a public right of way.
A raised and fenced-off patio has been built on the lane between the Monkstown Road and Doagh Road.
Monkstown man and avid historian Jackie Dawson said the lane held particular historical significance.
He said: “I’m in my 70s but I remember as a small child my grandmother taking me up the path to go to nursery school.
“This may be just a lane to some, that has little or no importance, but it formed part of the original network of paths which linked up all the different areas in what is now Newtownabbey.”
He added: “We can not continue to build over our history.
“I was one of the original Monkstown residents and through over development of the estate we have lost the very heart of our community and there no longer is a real identity.
“To put up new for old means we lose our history, community and identity and it is vital we maintain our links with the past, however small.”
The developer behind the Aspen View site, who asked not to be named, said the right of way was still there and he was cooperating fully with the Planning Service investigation.
He said: “It is still there, we have not closed it off, just re-routed it instead.
“There are few people who use it - mostly to go through to work at FG Wilson and we asked them if they would mind if we moved it and they were all right with it.
“We have put in a stone path along the field beside the path and the public right of way is still maintained.”
He added: “The reason why we moved it was because there was a theft last year. Someone in a van reversed up the lane and loaded up with the boilers and kitchens.
“Some of the residents were also concerned about their young children getting onto the lane.
“It is not our land, someone else owns it, but the public right of way remains and the Planning Service has been out to see that and have said they are happy with what’s in place.”
In a statement Newtownabbey Borough Council said: “Recently the council has received a number of complaints regarding the blocking of the path behind Aspen View, Monkstown.
“The complaint was passed on to the Department of the Environment’s Planning Service and they are now investigating the issue as a possible breach of a planning application.
“The original planning application for Aspen View U/2010/0359 showed the path being retained. The DOE Reference for the investigation is U/2012/0043/CA, and it is being dealt with by the South Antrim Area Planning Office, 16-22 Bedford Street. The planning officer dealing with the matter is Aiobheann Rooney and any queries regarding this issue should be directed to the planning officer on 9025 2898.”
A DoE spokeswoman added: “An alleged breach of planning control in the Aspen Park area of Newtownabbey was recently brought to the attention of the planning department. The reported breach is currently under investigation.
“This case is in the very early stages. The aim will be to conclude the investigation as soon as possible.”