A 20-apartment social housing scheme on the site of the former Ballymena Utd. Social Club has been approved by Council at committee level.
The application by Fold Housing Association will see the construction of 12 two-bedroom apartments and eight one-bedroom apartments within a three-storey block on the site at Slemish Drive plus 20 associated parking spaces.
Decision on a recommendation by planners’ to approve the application had been deferred by Mid & East Antrim Borough Council’s Planning Committee for one month until their April meeting on Thursday to allow time for further engagement with council officers and planners.
While all statutory consultees were satisfied with the application, subject to conditions, it attracted 12 letters of objection on a range of issues including potential for increased traffic, scale and massing,
Committee members had also aired a range of concerns including potential for loss of existing car parking at the site and for traffic increase in an area already prone to congestion at times of football matches, stock car racing and other events at the adjacent Showgrounds.
Updating them following further engagement, Senior Planner Kyle Patterson said the car park at the site, which had been closed since January 2013, had always been for the private use of social club members and guests and did not provide match day car parking.
There would be no loss of car parking or other displacement of council activities said Mr Patterson, stating that the original recommendation to approve the application subject to conditions remained unchanged.
In response to a query from Alderman Tommy Nicholl over potential impact on access to car parking at the Showgrounds, Mr Patterson pointed out that Transport NI was satisfied with regard to access and car parking and stated that it was considered that the proposed development could serve its own needs without obstructing the public highway.
Addressing the committee in support of the application, Turleys Associates’ representative Connor Hughes said the proposed development represented a £2million investment in social housing in Ballymena and was accordance with local housing need.
He said the proposed scheme, including associated car parking and point of access, would be entirely provided on land owned by Fold Housing and that it would not adversely impact on the operation of the Showgrounds or council land.
The committee went on to unanimously accept the planners’ recommendation to approve the application on the proposal of Alderman Tommy Nicholl, seconded by Councillor Paul Reid.