Police station plan could come at a cost

Mid & East Antrim Borough Council. Editorial image.
Mid & East Antrim Borough Council. Editorial image.

A plan to transform Broughshane’s former police station into a valuable community resource for the village could be in doubt, it has emerged.

The former PSNI station on Main Street was selected over a year ago as one of nine Community Asset Transfer projects involving public buildings and/or land no longer in use in various parts of the province, earmarked for community redevelopment.

Built in 1922, Broughshane police station ceased to be operational in tandem with the psni station in Portglenone in August 2013 following an overall review of the police estates.

Updating Mid and East Antrim councillors at their inaugural monthly meeting last week on the plan to turn the former PSNI station into a community resource, Chief Executive Anne Donaghy said “late issues” over the ‘free’ transfer of the premises had emerged.

“It now seems that the PSNI estate have now said there will be a cost,” she stated.

“The community is concerned that the PSNI estate is about to put the ‘for sale’ sign up,” she added.

Mrs Donaghy told councillors that up until recently “things were going well” for the proposed project, which had involved the Broughshane community group, Triangle Housing Association, and Ballymena Borough Council.

It is understood the plans for the 1,900 sqft building involved turning it into a community resource providing a foodbank, housing for the elderly, telephone outreach facility and a restaurant.

She also made councillors aware of a letter, sent to Ballymena Council last month, from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency notifying the local authority that consideration was being given to listing the premises as a building of historical interest.

“If listed that would change the whole business case, the value of the asset and what you can and cannot do with it,” said Mrs Donaghy.

“I have asked Minister Ford for clarity and to intervene to allow us to go back and express interest to allow us to secure that building forthwith for and with the partnership and work with the community, Triangle Housing and Council and the DSD.”

Councillors went on to agreed a retrospective request from Mrs Donaghy to write to the Minister for Justice, the Policing Board and other relevant bodies seeking clarification on the situation.

They did so on the proposal of TUV Councillor Brian Collins who commented: “The transfer seemed to have been taken on face value as free to the community and now the police estates seems to have gone back on their word.”