The Northern Ireland Housing Executive has confirmed plans for a new social housing development in the heart of the Rathcoole estate.
A delayed 20-unit scheme on land at Rathmullan Drive, part of which is currently occupied by a July 11 bonfire, is now scheduled to get under way in the coming financial year.
The Housing Executive confirmed details of its plans for the site following complaints from some Rathcoole residents that Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council had reneged on a promise to build an astroturf football training facility at the greenfield site.
While the council has confirmed that it was considering developing a 3G football pitch beside the estate’s new £120,000 Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA), it wasn’t able to acquire the necessary land from the Housing Executive.
“At the time the decision was made by the council to develop the MUGA, it was also agreed that the option to develop a further practice pitch on the adjacent land would be explored and engagement with the land owner would take place. Subsequent inquiries with the Housing Executive have indicated that this land has not been deemed surplus and is required to meet housing needs,” a spokesperson said.
Confirming that the site is needed for new social housing, a NIHE spokesperson added: “The Housing Executive was able to provide land for the MUGA, and attempted to provide land for the 3G pitch, however due to size and scale we were unable to accommodate this along with the planned social housing for the site.
“We can confirm that Apex Housing is currently programmed to start on-site in 2017/18 with a 20-unit new build social housing scheme.”
Meanwhile, local councillors have voiced concerns that the heat of the July 11 bonfire could damage the nearby MUGA and the neighbouring Dunanney Centre.
However, the local authority has stressed that it is liaising with the Fire and Rescue Service on “appropriate measures” to protect the MUGA and the busy community facility.
The Fire Service said that while it doesn’t have any enforcement power in relation to the size or location of bonfires, it will provide safety advice with a view to protecting life and property.