Apartments plan for site of Social Club

Ballymena Utd Social Club.and car park. (Editorial Image).
Ballymena Utd Social Club.and car park. (Editorial Image).

Councillors have deferred taking a decision on a plan for a 20-apartment social housing scheme on the site of Ballymena Utd Social Club.

The deferral was the culmination of a lengthy discussion on the application of Fold Housing Association at Mid & East Antrim Council’s Planning Committee meeting in the town on Thursday.

Principal Planner Gary McGuinness had outlined to members that the proposal was for the construction of 12-two bedroom apartments and eight one-bedroom apartments within a three storey block on the site of the existing social club at Slemish Drive plus 20 associated parking spaces.

He said that all statutory consultees were satisfied with the application but that it had attracted 12 letters of objection on a range of issues including potential for increased traffic, scale and massing.

Mr McGuinness said objections raised had been taken into account, that the application fulfilled planning and policy context and it was the view of the Planning Department to approve the proposal, subject to planning conditions.

Addressing the committee in support of the objectors, Councillor Paul Maguire said they felt the proposal did not respect the surrounding area and could have an adverse effect in relation to overlooking, overshadowing, privacy and noise.

He also claimed that the standard of road safety could “be compromised”, that the scale and mass of the development could “affect the local character” of the area and that the application did not meet the standard of Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 7.

Addressing the committee in support of the application, Lynsay Magill, Development Manager of Fold Housing, said they had exercised “extensive due diligence” with regard to the application which, she said, represented housing need in the area and had the support of the NI Housing Executive

She pointed out that following consultations with local residents, changes had been made to the plans including window positioning and landscaping and underlined that no objections had been raised by statutory consultees.

Ms Magill also pointed out that the proposed development would create construction jobs, provide new homes to sustain communities, and would have “a long term positive impact on the Warden Street area”.

A number of committee members aired a range of concerns including potential for loss of existing car parking at the site and potential for traffic increase in an area which, a number of councillors pointed out, was already prone to congestion at times of football matches, stock car racing and other events at the adjacent Showgrounds.

They went on to agree on a proposal from Cr Stephen Nicholl seconded by Cr Audrey Wales, to defer making a decision to allow additional time for further engagement to take placewith council officers and planners.