The owners of the Old Inn in Crawfordsburn have been criticised over building work plans which will see traffic disruption in the town and a potential loss in revenue to businesses over a nine month period.
Alderman Brian Wilson said a recent meeting arranged by Mayor of North Down Councillor Tony Hill with Roads Service and the Old Inn was a “complete waste of time” as management at the establishment had shown “no flexibility or compromise” with regard to the plans.
The Old Inn is having a new kitchen fitted which will see Main Street dug up as part of the work. A temporary set of traffic lights will be introduced at the junction of Main Street and Ballymullan Road which will help facilitate a lane closure as the work is carried out. The Old Inn declined to comment on the work.
Alderman Wilson said: “It is clear that the village and particularly the businesses within the village will suffer disruption for 39 weeks as the building work is carried out.
“Crawfordsburn at present suffers from regular traffic congestion and the introduction of traffic lights and a one way traffic system will make the situation intolerable.”
Alderman Wilson also said that the Ballymullan Road would become a rat run “as motorists try to avoid the lights at the junction”.
“However the greatest impact will be on the businesses in the village which are largely dependent on through traffic. It is difficult to see how they can survive if for nine months potential customers are forced to avoid the village by tailbacks caused by the traffic lights,” he said.
John McCormick, owner of the nearby Crawfordsburn Service Station, said he may have to close his business permanently because of a loss of revenue.
“This lane closure is going to affect me quite badly,” he said.
“I expect my business to be down by between 50 and 70 percent and there is no way I could survive over a period of nine months.
“In the end I could be forced to go to planning service and propose building new apartments at my current site because it would take me an eternity to pay back the debts I build up over the next nine months.”
Crawfordsburn Service Station currently employs three full-time and three part-time members of staff, all of whom could be made redundant, he added.
When contacted by The CT in relation to the work, the Old Inn said it would not be commenting on the issue.
However in a letter to Mr Wilson, Department of Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy said that discussions had taken place between between developers, Roads Service, and the PSNI and that although some traffic disruption was inevitable, “Roads Service is satisfied that the proposal presented is the least disruptive means of carrying out work safely and minimising inconvenience to all concerned”.
A statement from Roads Service confirmed the work: “There will be a temporary set of traffic lights situated at the junction of Main Street and Ballymullan Road. This will facilitate a lane closure during the work which will commence in the coming week and last approximately nine months.”
Roads Service signs erected close to the planned closure say that work will be ongoing for 14 weeks. This is the timescale for the first phase.
The second phase of work for the remainder of the nine months will take place immediately after the first phase is completed.
Meanwhile, a police spokesman said officers will be monitoring the area during the closure.