Investors sought for Glenwell project

Glengormley Police Station closed to the public in June 2012. The council is hoping to transform the disused site as part of a major commercial redevelopment project.
Glengormley Police Station closed to the public in June 2012. The council is hoping to transform the disused site as part of a major commercial redevelopment project.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council is pushing ahead with plans for the redevelopment of the Glenwell area of Glengormley.

At their latest monthly meeting, members of the local authority’s Community Planning and Regeneration Committee agreed to progress the project by formally issuing a development brief in a bid to attract potential investors.

The council’s ambitious plans for the area between Glenwell Road and Farmley include the redevelopment of the disused police station site.

The Greater Glenwell Concept Plan could see a multi-million pound transformation of the area through the creation of new leisure facilities, visitor attractions and restaurants. However, the success of the project will require significant buy-in from local business/property owners, government departments and private sector investors.

As a first step to securing the investment needed to take the initiative forward, committee members agreed that the council “draw up a development brief for the entire site in order to conduct ‘soft’ market testing with potential investors.”

“Interested parties would be invited to outline their proposals for the site, taking into account issues raised regarding traffic management, car parking, anti-social behaviour and the quality of the offering. Officers will ensure that existing businesses and landlords are aware of the status of this stage of the process and that it is a market testing exercise by the council to inform on the way forward,” a report presented to the meeting stated.

Members also agreed that the council should procure consultancy support to manage the process going forward.

Moving the officers’ recommendations, UUP Cllr John Scott hailed the redevelopment plan “a great opportunity for Glengormley”, while his party colleague, Alderman Mark Cosgrove urged the council to be “particularly ambitious” in terms of attracting investors and maximising the potential of the site.

Committee chairman, DUP Cllr Phillip Brett revealed that the council has already met with “a multi-national organisation” that has shown an interest in the redevelopment plan.

The council’s Director of Community Planning, Majella McAlister confirmed that there has already been interest from potential investors, but said that a development brief is now required in order to test the market and gauge interest in the project.

A consultation process relating to the Greater Glenwell Concept Plan, involving an online survey and a public meeting, took place earlier this year, with the results showing significant support for a new commercial leisure development.

While some concerns were raised about the potential impact on existing food outlets, traffic issues and anti-social behaviour in the area, the vast majority of respondents were supportive of the redevelopment plan.

It’s understood Glengormley Chamber of Commerce and Traders’ Association has suggested that the project should be phased, with refurbishment of the existing units completed first, followed by redevelopment of the lands at the rear of the site and finally the development of the former police barracks.