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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Green light for new cemetery in MEA but 8 months lost after MLA objects

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has been given the go-ahead to progress the development of a new cemetery in Larne.

Planning permission for a new £2.1m cemetery at Old Glenarm Road was approved by the council’s Planning Committee in May following a site visit.

However, the council received a letter from the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) saying:

“It is the Department’s view that it would be appropriate to notify the Department in relation to the application by the council for the construction of a municipal cemetery.”

The committee was reminded that the Department does have “the right to intervene”.

Commenting on the Department’s intervention, Ballymena DUP Alderman Audrey Wales MBE said that the committee had all seen the application site and “fully examined” the plans.

She claimed that “MLAs had raised concern with the Department and this decision was halted”.

“This gave the impression that this committee takes decisions lightly and does not fully examine the application which is not true.”

Mid and East Antrim Mayor, Knockagh Ald Noel Williams asked if an MLA had raised an objection.

Head of Planning and acting director of development, Paul Duffy said: “As far as I am aware, an MLA wrote to the Department about conflict of interest.

“The Department served a direction preventing us from issuing a decision until they looked into the matter.”

Bannside DUP Councillor Tom Gordon commented: “The application was approved in May 2022. It is now January 2023. We have lost eight months. We could have been proceeding with our development.

“We have considered it very diligently. We had a site meeting for those people who were unfamiliar with the area. We have dotted all the I's and crossed all the T's.

“I am glad to see they have given us the go-ahead to issue approval. I am happy to see that.”

The new 15-acre site consists of two fields opposite 382 Old Glenarm Road on the right side of the road towards Ballygally. It is expected to be able to facilitate almost 4,000 plots with capacity for 25 years.

It is anticipated there will be 180 burials annually with a maximum of three per day and a “gap of 90 minutes between funerals”.

McGarel Cemetery, also at Old Glenarm Road, is already at capacity and Greenland Cemetery in Craigyhill will reach capacity in nine years.

The new cemetery will include a memorial garden, 140 parking spaces, public toilets including a Changing Places facility for disabled users, a staff building with access to the site by a new right-hand turning lane at Old Glenarm Road. A bus stop is included in plans.


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