£90m housing plan gets go-ahead at former quarry site in Ballyclare
Site plan for 300 house development at Craighill Quarry area of Ballyclare
Outline planning permission for 300 new homes in the former Craighill Quarry area of Ballyclare was approved by Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors at a meeting on Monday evening (18 September).
The proposed £90m development has been earmarked for the site between Ballycorr Road and Ballyeaston Road.
Senior planning officer Alicia Leathem told a meeting of the borough council’s Planning Committee the “extensive site takes in land at the former Craighill Quarry and is within the development limit of Ballyclare”.
She indicated phase one is under construction due to previous planning permission. She noted the current application is for outline planning permission. She reported there have been no objections from statutory consultees.
Planning agent Chris Bryson said the proposal complies with relevant planning policy. He also noted consultees are “content with the proposal”.
He went on to say the application has been in the system for four years and has been “vigorously assessed and scrutinised during this time”.
Threemilewater Alliance Alderman Tom Campbell asked the agent about a reference in the planning officer’s report to the committee from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) “indicating potential for unforeseen contamination”.
Mr Bryson explained “unforeseen contamination reflects the fact that we have not drilled bore holes every single inch. There has been no contamination found. If any is found, construction will stop and be investigated.”
One of the house designs planned for the development.
The planning officer’s report to the committee says:
“Both NIEA Regulation Unit and EHS indicate that there is the potential for localised unforeseen contamination to be encountered during the development works related to the former quarry working at the site.
“The Contaminated Land Assessments have not identified any unacceptable risks to environmental receptors for the development. NIEA Regulation Unit has no objections to the development provided that standard conditions are placed on any grant of planning permission.
“It is therefore considered that there is unlikely to be any significant impacts on nearby receptors as a result of potential contamination from within the application site.”
Committee chair Macedon Ulster Unionist Councillor Robert Foster commented there is “community benefit with the site”.
The development plan includes local community and neighbourhood facilities (including local commercial/retail units, a community hub, children’s playground and medical/fitness facilities).
Cllr Foster remarked the site covers “a large area” and asked about accessibility. Mr Bryson indicated plans to locate community facilities as close to the centre of the site as possible with connecting roads through the site.
Ballyclare DUP Cllr Jeannie Archibald-Brown said:
“I have huge concerns regarding this site. There is existing anti-social behaviour relating to the lake. Young people use it as a swimming pool during good weather. That is extremely concerning. What will happen in this location to prevent that".
Mr Bryson replied: “The reason it is used for anti-social behaviour is because the site is vacant. We believe that once the site is developed, that will dissuade misuse of the location. The lake is a benefit to the site rather than a liability. We have plans to introduce some sort of use on the lake."
Threemilewater Ulster Unionist Cllr Stephen Cosgrove asked about the developer’s commitment to build community facilities. He was reminded community facilities are “part of the application”.
Threemilewater DUP Ald Stephen Ross asked if a council officer has been consulted about facilities needed in Ballyclare. He was advised the applicant is “more than happy to engage with the council in terms of specifics”.
Glengormley DUP Cllr Alison Bennington asked about the depth of the lake. The agent said a survey indicated it is between 30 to 40 ft deep with an uneven base. He described it as “a natural filling lake." He went on to say safety measures will be put in place.
The officer’s report to the committee states:
“The main feature of the site is the large lake, located close to the centre of the site with surrounding cliff faces that have resulted from years of quarrying. As a former quarry, there are large areas of filled land, where extracted stone and rock have been backfilled.”
Cllr Bennington continued: “It is just very worrying it is that depth – the safety aspect with such a large development. Young people and children would venture towards it.”
Mr Bryson responded: “It is in the application that we take all safety measures around the lake. This is a zoned housing site. We consider the lake to be an asset for the site.”
Ald Campbell proposed the committee approved the officer’s recommendation to grant planning planning permission. His proposal was seconded by party colleague Threemilewater Cllr Billy Webb MBE.
Following a vote, the application was approved by seven councillors in favour with Ald Ross and Cllr Foster against and abstentions from Cllr Bennington and Cllr Archibald-Brown.
In a statement after the meeting, Antrim and Newtownabbey Mayor Threemilewater DUP Cllr Mark Cooper BEM said:
“This is a substantial development in a thriving town where the new residents will find excellent sport, education and leisure facilities to support a healthy, active life.”
Cllr Foster said: “Bringing new families into the local economy in Ballyclare will mean a boost for retail in the town and enhance the community as a whole.”