Antrim and Newtownabbey Council is pushing ahead with plans for a multi-million pounds crematorium development in the borough.
The local authority is currently looking for a private sector partner to take on the construction and running of the facility on council-owned land at Ballyearl. And it has this week confirmed that the tender process is now under way.
“Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council can confirm the PQQ (Pre-Qualification Questionnaire) has closed and applications are being evaluated,” a spokesperson said. “The successful companies will be contacted towards the end of this year issuing them with an ITPD (Invitation To Participate in a Dialogue). The tender process is due to be completed by the end of June 2016, with work commencing after this.”
The crematorium, a Public-Private Partnership project likely to cost more than £5million, has been met with considerable opposition from people living near the greenfield site beside the council’s central services depot, opposite Ballyearl Arts and Leisure Centre.
They have questioned the need for a crematorium in Newtownabbey and voiced concerns about increased traffic problems, potential pollution and the impact on people’s health. They also fear the development could lead to a drop in property prices and destroy the local community.
Stephen Ross, one of the few councillors opposed to the Ballyearl project, believes the development is likely to go ahead.
“It’s going to be hard to fight this now as the council has taken a democratic vote to go for it and no one seems to want to listen to the public about their concerns,” he said.
The local authority has already secured outline planning permission for the project. However, an application for full planning permission still has to be submitted to the Department of the Environment for approval.
Meanwhile, the Times understands that tests are being carried out on farmland at Ashley Road, near Ballyearl, to assess its suitability as a cemetery site.
With very little space left at Carnmoney Cemetery for new graves, the council is keen to secure suitable land for a new cemetery.