Road scheme delay ‘understandable’

The new Ballyclare Link Road has been put on hold. INNT 12-039-FP
The new Ballyclare Link Road has been put on hold. INNT 12-039-FP

DELAYS in a major road building project for Ballyclare are “understandable”, according to one local councillor.

Work on the long-awaited Ballyclare Link Road, which forms part of the £400million Westlands housing development, was due to start earlier this year.

However, the £10million 3.1km privately-funded road project, which will eventually link the Rashee Road to the Templepatrick Road via the Doagh Road, has been beset with difficulties.

Its initial start date was put back following archaeological finds and badger setts having to be relocated away from the proposed road line. And earlier this year, Holm, the company behind the project, again put the scheme on hold, this time for funding reasons.

Ballyclare councillor Pat McCudden said the current delay in the project’s start was “understandable”.

“The banks had promised the finance for the road project and now they have withdrawn that promise,” he claimed.

“My understanding is that the banks want to see more houses sold before they hand over the money for the road.

“But with the crash in the property market and the spate of anti-social behaviour last year it has been difficult to sell homes in the new Readers Park development.

“However, through the council’s regeneration committee for Glengormley and Ballyclare we are working hard to attract more people and businesses to the town. Ballyclare has a lot to offer people in a fantastic rural setting.”

A spokesman for Holm has stressed it is committed to the road project and said negotiations are still ongoing with banking institutions over funding.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Department of the Environment said the initial plan for Readers Park made provision for the link road on completion of the 125th home.

“The draft Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan zoned land around Ballyclare for housing development. The Ballyclare relief road also forms part of the plan and is to be provided and funded by developers when necessary,” she said.

“The Readers Park housing area is affected by this requirement and the current phase of development was conditioned to ensure the road was provided at the appropriate time. The department will discuss provision of the road with the developer when necessary.”

She added: “A condition of the planning approval indicates that the provision of the relief road is relative to the completion and occupation of 125 dwellings within the development. As such the condition is not timebound but the Department will enter into discussions with the developer before the completion/occupation date of the 125th dwelling.”