As work is set to resume on a major housing project in Ballyclare, residents have called for the town’s long-awaited relief road to be progressed.
The £350m development at Readers Park is Northern Ireland’s largest residential development scheme.
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, it says discussions about provision of the 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 - something many local people see as vital in order to address traffic problems in and around the town centre.
Concerned residents took to social media this week to voice their views about the construction of the new homes without the bypass being in place.
Zoë Tisdale said: “This is absolutely ridiculous. Northern Ireland may need more housing, but Ballyclare doesn’t. There should be no more developing until we have an infrastructure in place to cope with it all. We can’t cope at present even before these new houses are built. We need people to come to Ballyclare to spend money, but why would they when it takes you 35 minutes to get from one end of the town to the other.”
Geoffrey Johnston added: “No more houses until we have the new road. How is the traffic system going to cope with all this? Local MLAs need to be doing something urgently about this.”
These sentiments were echoed by David McMaster, who stood as an independent candidate in the recent election. He said: “The last thing Ballyclare needs right now is more houses. If you think the congestion in Ballyclare is bad now, wait until these houses are built. Between these and the development on the Hillhead Road this will be a disaster in terms of the traffic.”