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Homes to be built at site where Harryville church once stood

By Staff Reporter

Almost 50 homes are to be built on the now vacant site of the former Church of Our Lady in Ballymena's Harryville area, the scene of a controversial loyalist protest 20 years ago.

The church was in sharp focus in 1996 when a series of demonstrations - sometimes 400-strong - began outside its doors in response to nationalist objections to an Orange Order parade in the nearby village of Dunloy.

The protests, which often disrupted Masses and frequently turned into riots, eventually ended after the Good Friday Agreement was signed. Headlines went around the globe.

The church was damaged on a number of occasions in sectarian attacks and in 2005 police even placed a guard on the building.

The church closed in 2012 because of leaks and structural damage which would have caused over £600,000 to repair and it was demolished in 2013.

The land has remained vacant although several times in recent years, a Union Flag had been placed in the centre of the unoccupied site, which is surrounded by a high metal fence.

Planning permission has now been obtained for 48 homes - 12 townhouses and 36 apartments - on the site at Larne Road.

The site is in the Wakehurst area of Ballymena and backs onto Wakehurst Park.

An application to name the new development is on the agenda for a committee meeting of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council in Carrickfergus on Monday night.

The builder's agents have submitted three potential names with Wakehurst Court being the preferred option. Other suggestions are Wakehurst Close and Wakehurst Place. A report for councillors said: "If all options are rejected, the decision will be deferred until the applicant is notified of any alternative(s) provided by elected members."

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