Long-running fence issue set to be resolved in Ballyclare

The view from the rear of Mr Mitchell's home.
The view from the rear of Mr Mitchell's home.

A Ballyclare resident has expressed relief that a long-running battle to have a damaged boundary fence replaced appears to have been resolved.

Construction of the replacement fencing is due to commence today (Monday) at the Grange Valley location.

The lamppost still in place.

The lamppost still in place.

Resident Robert Mitchell contacted the Newtownabbey Times to outline details of the “saga” involving a number of organisations, which began over two years ago.
He stated: “In 2017 the adjourning fence along our property had started to be pushed down by the overgrown area on the other side of the fence. I contacted NIHE about the issue, as the land was maintained by them.
“Then in September 2017 high winds came and blew parts of the fence into our garden. Weeks went by until the contractor came and removed the dangerous fence, but the area was left lying open. 
“They came and put up a temporary fence to stop cars from coming over the edge into our garden, but people still go back and forth as there was only a rope at one end securing the fence.”
As the issue continued, Mr Mitchell said the Housing Exectuive advised him the contractor had said they had been waiting on a lamppost being removed before a new wall and fence could be built, but this had taken place and they would now be starting the work.

He added: “The supposedly removed lamppost is still standing.”
In response to Mr Mitchell’s claims, a NIHE spokesperson said: “It is disappointing that we have not yet finalised this boundary issue with the resident. Staff have been in regular contact with the contractor to progress this issue, and we apologise this has not yet been resolved to the resident’s satisfaction.
“We have again spoken with the Department for Infrastructure to ensure the lamppost is removed as quickly as possible. When this is completed we can arrange for test holes to be carried out to ensure no cables are underground where we propose to build the boundary. If this is the case we can then begin work to build a wall at this home.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the contractor, H&A, said: “Whilst it is unfortunate that these works have been unable to commence, we would advise that we have had the necessary resources in place to proceed with these works for a number of months, however we have been delayed due the other stakeholders involved in the project not progressing their works including NIE and the Department for Infrastructure (DfI).”

Commenting on the issue, a DfI spokesperson said: “The Department received a request in October 2019 to remove a control mini-pillar and street lighting column to facilitate work associated with building a new wall in Grange Valley, Ballyclare. Staff have been liaising with NIE to have the live electrical supply disconnected, so that we can proceed with this work.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for NIE Networks said: “NIE Networks assessed this project and provided a quotation to the Department for Infrastructure for the necessary works at the beginning of October 2019.

“NIE Networks liaised with DfI on a number of occasions after the quote was issued to advise that payment was still outstanding. DfI made the required payment on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 and the work has been scheduled to be undertaken on Monday, February 3.”

Cautiously welcoming this commitment, Mr Mitchell said: “I welcome the news with bated breath that work is set to start on Monday. We have been promised that work was due to start a couple of times already.

“It will be a big relief for us when everything is resolved. It has just gone on that long.”