Work is set to resume at Northern Ireland’s largest residential development scheme - Readers Park in Ballyclare.
The ambitious housing project, which stalled following the collapse of developer Holm NI, is due to get under way again following the purchase of the land last year by London-based Neptune Group.
While the company has confirmed that it plans to start construction of new homes “imminently”, it says discussions about provision of the town’s long-awaited relief road - between Templepatrick Road, Doagh Road and Rashee Road - are at “an embryonic stage”.
A multi-million pound developer-funded bypass was a key part of Holm NI’s ‘Westlands’ proposal, but it’s understood Neptune Group is hoping to secure public money to help it meet the cost of the new road.
“During our short ownership (of the land) we have been incredibly proactive in trying to find a solution for this inherited issue. This is not only a solution for future inhabitants, but also existing home owners and businesses in the area,” a spokesperson told the Times.
The 165-acre site to the west of Ballyclare has outline planning permission for 1,800 homes and full planning permission for 123 homes at either end of the zoned land.
Neptune Group has confirmed that construction on 64 of the 123 homes will begin imminently. They will be located close to the existing 61 homes on the site, which were built in 2010.
The scheme, which has a current gross development value of £350 million will take around 20 years to complete. Aside from delivering much needed housing stock to Northern Ireland, the project will also bring significant employment to the local area. Estimates indicate that around 600 jobs will be created, with 300 of these jobs being sustained for the duration of the 20 year construction period.
Speaking about the development, Neptune Group director Creighton Boyd said: “There is a real demand for high quality homes in Northern Ireland and we’re delighted to be supplying such a large number in order to help meet this demand. We pride ourselves on building homes to a high standard both in terms of design and quality and we’re very much looking forward to beginning work and ensuring each new home has the Neptune stamp of approval.”
He continued: “We are also planning for the future construction of a further 59 units which will be situated on the Templepatrick Road. We’ve had positive engagement with Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council to date with regards to the new ‘Ballyclare Relief Road’ which will run through our land ownership and how that can be brought forward in a timely fashion.
“During the lifespan of this scheme we are committed to working closely with the local community and elected representatives to ensure that the 165 acres of development land at Ballyclare realises its full potential and becomes a valued asset to the area.”
South Antrim MP Danny Kinahan has voiced his support for the scheme and the benefits it will have for the local economy.
“I am thrilled that Neptune Group is starting work on this landmark development, bringing such wide-reaching benefits for Ballyclare and South Antrim as a whole. With 600 jobs - 300 over the long-term development schedule - this represents a massive economic boost not to mention the provision of high quality housing that it will deliver,” he said.
“I will continue to work hard to ensure that the development is appropriately served in terms of infrastructure and that all stakeholders including schools, services and businesses are given careful consideration in bringing about the necessary infrastructural improvements.”
The first phase of the new housing at Readers Park, which will be accessed from Rashee Road, will be released on Friday, May 27 via Simon Brien Residential and Country Estates. It will comprise a range of three and four bedroom homes with prices starting at £139,500.
Neptune Group has a firm footprint in the property market in Northern Ireland, having a construction pipeline of almost 4,000 residential units across the province.