Massive expansion of Ballyclare hailed as good news for first-time home buyers

A decision to vastly expand one of Northern Ireland’s towns has been hailed as a net-positive move by political figures from the area.

A map of the planned new zone in red; the site is so massive that the News Letter has had to compile this map itself from a series of smaller ones
A map of the planned new zone in red; the site is so massive that the News Letter has had to compile this map itself from a series of smaller ones

The move will transform Ballyclare in south Antrim by adding some 699 new homes, all built in a belt along its north-eastern edge.

It also involves building a new stretch of a long-awaited relief road, which will run through the new neighbourhoods (it was first mooted in the 80s, and has been under construction for over a year).

Now that the blueprints have the green light, DUP MLA for the area Trevor Clarke says the onus is on the authorities to expand school and health services to match.

Neighbours had complained of potential traffic issues as well as “increased air and noise pollution [and the] requirement for additional public resources such as libraries and schools” arising from such a giant development.

But nonetheless planning officials said “the proposal will assist in creating an attractive place to live”, and new SF infrastructure minister John O’Dowd last week granted his thumbs up for the scheme.

Mr Clarke said: “Whenever you get a large-scale development there are issues that are negative, but in Ballyclare its positive. There is a need for housing in the area.

“I think it’s welcome news for the construction industry, and it’s welcome news for first-time buyers who are finding it very difficult to get properties near where they were reared.”

He said plans for things like extra GP capacity in the town should be “sped up” in light of the approval decision.

Meanwhile UUP councillor for the town Norrie Ramsay said work had already been done on things like upgrading the sewage system, adding: “There’s demand there... and I think it’s very positive people want to come to Ballyclare to live.”

According to the most recent census (done in 2011), the town was made up of roughly 9,800 residents living in some 4,040 households.

The average number of people living in each household was 2.43.

What this means is that the 699 new homes amount to an increase of just over 17% on the overall size of the town in one fell swoop.

And if the 699 new homes were also to have an average of 2.43 people living in them, then that would mean the whole planned development will add 1,700 people to Ballyclare’s population.

The split of housing is as follows: 440 semi-detached homes, 159 detached, 92 terraces, and eight apartments.

The developer is listed as Ballyclare Developments Ltd, which is directed by Creighton William Harrison Boyd, and Diana Mary Alexandra Heffron.

Planning officials have described the site as “predominantly undeveloped land which is either disused or used for agricultural grazing”.

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