Residents in the Jordanstown area have hit out at plans by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to build a ‘greenway’ from Greenisland to Monkstown.
The project, which seeks to transform a section of disused railway line into a 2.7km path for cyclists and pedestrians, was a key feature in a 2015 masterplan for regenerating the Greenisland area.
However, homeowners living along the proposed route have expressed concerns over the plans, with some criticising an alleged lack of consultation by MEABC with local residents.
It comes after Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors voiced opposition to the project, indicating they could not support “any proposal to locate the section of the greenway between Greenisland and Monkstown”.
The motion was brought by Alderman Tom Campbell, who deemed the proposal "flawed" and called for "meaningful consultation" on the scheme.
The path’s proximity to homes and the potential for loss of privacy were just some of the concerns raised by those living along the proposed route. "There are worries about the topography of the area and how the path will look directly into hundreds of houses - into bedrooms," said local resident, Donna McCullough.
"There are issues with regard to wildlife which must be considered, and anti-social behaviour.
“It is a wonderful aspiration to support healthy lifestyles, but at what cost to your neighbouring community?"
Referring to funding received by MEA council following the submission of a feasibility study to the Department for Infrastructure, another resident added: “How was the feasibility study successful when none of the relevant residents both in ANBC and MEABC, who live alongside the proposed greenway site were consulted or contacted?"
Threemilewater councillor Stephen Ross, who backed Antrim and Newtownabbey's motion opposing the scheme, criticised members of the neighbouring MEA council for failing to attend a public information event on the plans on February 6.
"Those who are proposing this greenway should have turned up," he added. "There was no new information at the meeting that hasn't been already given out; nothing to allay residents' fears.
"All the people whose homes border that site; those are the ones who should be listened to."
Responding to the claims, a spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council indicated that a "formal consultation" event had yet to take place, with the dates to be finalised.
Consulting with residents prior to the submission of the feasibility study, meanwhile, "wasn’t a requirement by DFI."
"The event held on February 6 at Greenisland Football club was a drop-in information session to enable people who have not yet had a chance to hear anything about the proposed scheme to find out about the process," the spokesperson added.
"Anyone asking how to object was offered the opportunity to register with the administrator who attended on the evening. Many others were advised that they could register their specific concerns and objections with Claire Duddy. Claire Duddy is the officer collating feedback regarding the proposal and anyone wishing to register their views can do so by emailing her directly on Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org or writing to her at the Museum and Civic Centre, 11 Antrim Street, Carrickfergus, BT38 7DG."
It is understood the public information session on February 6 coincided with a Mid and East Antrim council meeting in Ballymena, which elected members were invited to attend.
"Some 230 households bordering onto the proposed greenway were sent a written invitation outlining the purpose of the event, and it was advertised as such online via council’s website and in council press releases sent to local media," the spokesperson continued.
The local authority indicated that it remained a matter for individual councillors as to whether they will visit the homes of residents affected by the plans.
Meanwhile, the recent use of a drone to gather footage along the proposed greenway route was carried out with the permission of the landowner, according to MEABC.
"A drone was used to obtain footage on January 22, 2018 for use in completing the detailed study which the council agreed to undertake following confirmation of funding from the Department for Infrastructure," added the council spokesperson.
"The footage was obtained following the receipt of permissions from the landowner, Ulster Transport Holding Company (Translink) who had recommended the activity during a consultation meeting, as they had identified a number of potential issues along the site, e.g. topography, culverts etc. which could impact on the proposal.
"The footage was undertaken by Crowded Space at heights twice the legal minimum and with the full knowledge and co-operation of the landowner."