Dad says son was killed on busy Northern Ireland road at new crematorium site, now a new access lane will make it even more dangerous
The government has been accused of dicing with death over plans for traffic access to Northern Ireland's new crematorium.
Worried residents are up in arms after discovering that visitors will enter the site via a slip road that runs along the front of their homes. They include one local man who lost his teenage son in an accident on the busy Lisburn Road at Moira, where the new facility will be located.
Four properties on the road, which runs between Lisburn and Moira, will be directly affected by the proposed entrance to the new crematorium. One resident will have to negotiate a new filter lane to exit and enter their home.
Liz Arnott, who lives in the property with her husband Mark, says that while no-one was very happy to have the crematorium located beside them, all of her neighbours accepted it.
However, they insist that at no time were they consulted about details of the new access which she described as "crazy and dangerous."
According to the Arnotts, the Lisburn Road, Moira is one of the busiest and most deadly in the province. Mark Arnott lost his 18-year-old son, as well as a teenage friend years earlier, in separate road accidents along that stretch of road.
The additional traffic generated by the new crematorium - up to 15 hearses a day plus visitors to the cemetery - will exacerbate what the Arnotts say is already a serious safety issue.
Liz said: "Back in 2008 when the designs were drawn up we all saw them and, while we didn't like it, we had no major issue with it. It is very nicely landscaped with lots of trees and we accepted that it was needed and it had to go somewhere.
"It was only three weeks ago when we got a letter saying that there was a planned extension taking in two more fields that we saw where the access is going to be.
"They are proposing a filter road which will run along the front of the entrance to our home meaning we will not be able to see to the right when exiting onto the main road. It will make life really difficult for our elderly neighbours getting in and out of their properties as well.
"We've been told there could be up to 15 burials a day as well as visitors. Our concern is how we are going to enter and exit our premises and also because we are near the busy Trummery crossroads it is going to be a serious safety hazard.
"It's documented that this road is the third most dangerous for accidents in Ireland and it really is dangerous, fast and busy and to create access at that point in the road is dicing with death."
Liz's stepson Ashley was just 18 and starting his career as an apprentice joiner when his life was tragically taken during an accident on the road close to his home. Ashley played hockey for Ulster and was returning home from coaching in Lisburn when he was involved in the fatal collision 11 years ago.
His dad Mark said: "We know too well just how busy and dangerous the road is. I also lost a good friend some years ago who died while on his way to work on this road. He was only 18 too.
"My son Ashley was a very caring and very thoughtful boy with his whole life in front of him.
"There have been countless other accidents and deaths on this road as it is so busy and the speed is terrible."
The couple believe that a solution is available but say they can't get anyone to consider it.
It has been suggested for many years that a roundabout at the busy Trummery Road junction would reduce speed and increase safety on the road. It too, they say, would make ideal access to the new crematorium removing the dangers posed by placing it in front of residential properties.
In a statement the Department for Infrastructure said TransportNI (formerly DoE Roads Service) had provided planners with advice on road safety.
"After consideration, TransportNI offered no objection to the planning application and it was approved by the planning authority (then DOE Planning Service) on the 10th October, 2013," it said. The statement added that any concerns about the position of a slip road "would now be a matter for Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council to investigate as part of their enforcement responsibilities".