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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Permission granted for new apartment complex and demolition of church in Ballymena

Outline planning permission has been approved for new apartments on the site of Ballymena Congregational Church.

The application was granted by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Planning Committee at a meeting on Thursday morning.

The project has been proposed at Kinhilt Street opposite Clonavon Terrace. The application was lodged by the trustees of Ballymena Congregational Church.

Senior planning officer Kyle Patterson told councillors the proposal would involve the demolition of the church, a late 19th century building. He reported the application has resulted in five objections from local residents.

He noted the Historic Environment Division has said the overall height of the proposed building is “satisfactory”.

“Planning is of the opinion that the principle of an apartment development is perfectly acceptable,” he sated.

Agent Ivan McClean, representing the church committee, welcomed the decision to approve saying the proposal would contribute to the wider area and regional development strategy plan for sustainable housing.

He went on to say it is in “a suitable location” and is a “suitable type of development” designed to suit the area’s character and would have “no adverse impact on neighbouring vicinity”.

He stated the church is not a “heritage” building that provides  “architectural or cultural significance”.

“It has become more run-down over the years and become more difficult to get people to carry out essential maintenance,” said Mr McClean.

Ballymena DUP Alderman Audrey Wales MBE expressed concern the committee would be presented with “a plan for a concrete block”.

She described the proposed location as “a beautiful area of the town” and she urged a design that “matches the area”.

“I certainly would not like to see another concrete block. It has to be done in a way that is complementary to the area.”

The planning officer pointed out at this stage it is just the principle being considered. He acknowledged the adjacent terraced houses are B2 listed and will be “an important material consideration” at a later stage.

Ald Wales proceeded to say with the condition it would be “complementary to the area”, then she would approve.

The application was then agreed unanimously.


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