New road access approved for 112-home Larne development

New road access to a proposed residential development site at Tower Road in Larne was given the go-ahead at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Planning Committee on Thursday morning.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 5:55 pm

The 15.3 acre plot is located on land between Bankheads Lane and Tower Road.

Outline planning permission for 112 new homes consisting of 96 houses and 16 apartments on the site of the former St Comgall’s College, now demolished, was approved in 2018.

The same year, the site adjacent to Larne Leisure Centre and Larne Town Park went on the market for £2m.

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The new Sandy Bay pavilion

Pedestrian access is to be retained at Bankheads Lane. Trees which have a Tree Preservation Order are to be protected.

Principal Planning officer Gary McGuinness said that a “high quality residential development” is planned.

He reported that 10 objections regarding traffic, sewerage and density have been received and have been addressed.

Commenting on the application, Larne Lough DUP Councillor Gregg McKeen, who is not a member of the Planning Committee but had speaking rights at the meeting, said: “My objection is not around the design of the overall development. I believe it is a good lay-out and very fitting for the area. The mature trees on the site are being protected and there is plenty of open space.

“My concern is access and regress of the site on to Tower Road.”

He went on to say this is now opposite the new Sandy Bay pavilion and in “close proximity” to the leisure centre access.

“Tower Road on a nightly basis and weekends is normally full of cars. I believe more people will be going into the leisure centre carpark with children crossing Tower Road.

“Around access, safety is the main concern. Also the volume of traffic increasing in this area.”

Cllr McKeen asked for conditions applied to enable provision for a crossing on Tower Road at Sandy Bay to enable protection for children crossing.

The Parish of Larne applicant’s agent, Eamonn Loughrey, told the meeting: “This is not an opportunity to revisit matters of principle that have already been approved.”

He noted that access at Tower Road had already been approved. He added that parking at the pavilion should be determined “as part of the application for the pavilion”.

“It is not a requirement of our applicant to provide parking for the pavilion,” he stated.

Larne Lough DUP Alderman Paul Reid asked if people going to Sandy Bay could park at the entrance to the new development.

Mr Loughrey noted that a traffic impact assessment has already been carried out.

“I do not see why there would be a health and safety issue,” he added.

Ald Reid reiterated the closeness of the entrance to the proposed development to the entrance to the leisure centre and said that there should be “some form of safety measure put in to safeguard children”.

“Some are brighter than others. Some will go out and run straight across the road,” he stated.

Stephen Fullerton, Department for Infrastructure, pointed out that all the roads’ requirements were dealt with at the outline application stage when there were “deemed to be no road safety issues”.

Ald Reid continued: “We do not want to wait until an accident occurs. I  do believe there is a serious problem and now is the time to resolve that before the new entrance goes in.”

Mr Fullerton commented: “No-one knows what the footfall will be.”

He indicated that a roads engineer could carry out an assessment when the development is in place, if it is deemed necessary.

Knockagh Alliance Ald Noel Williams proposed the officer’s recommendation to approve the application seconded by Coast Road Cllr James McKeown.

Cllr McKeown said: “I am more than happy that Roads Service will sort out any problem that may or may not occur.”

The application was approved by nine councillors in favour and two against.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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Click here to read: Empty Larne shop units to become apartments

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