On September 3, a masterplan for the future of Carrickfergus in the next 25 years was launched by a development company. The information is available at www.dsdni.gov.uk (click 'Consultation'). The plan produces some good ideas to improve the town, but at a cost to the ratepayers and families who live in the borough.
The areas affected by the plan will be:
* The Marine Gardens and children's play area - the only open space on the seafront. This will be replaced by apartments and hotels.
* The new Sainsbury's store will be demolished and replaced by apartments.
* The cinema, Premier Inn and restaurants in the Harbour area will all be demolished and replaced by apartments.
* In all 580 car parking places used by staff working in the town centre - gone.
* The Marine Highway, which carries 30,000 vehicles per day, will be reduced from four lanes to two lanes, causing major traffic jams on the Belfast-to-Larne road.
The current plan creates more than 1,000 new apartments and townhouses in the town centre, mainly at the expense of ratepayers.
This is the vision of Carrickfergus that a development company which comprises of 50% council and 50% developers and property owners have for the borough. Ratepayers need the following questions answered by Carrickfergus Borough Council:
* Who own the plans? Is it the development company or Carrickfergus Borough Council? If it is the development company, is Carrickfergus Borough Council handing over the control of all development in Carrickfergus to a private company?
* In adopting this plan are DSD and Carrickfergus Borough Council supporting the asset-stripping of Carrickfergus by developers and turning their back on the ratepayers?
* Will Carrickfergus Borough Council present an alternative plan for the future of Carrickfergus; one that involves the ratepayers and their families to provide the much-needed amenities for the next 25 years?
Carrickfergus does need a plan, but not this one. It is up to the ratepayers to choose between a concrete jungle or a historic heritage town with open spaces to enjoy.
I would urge the people of Carrickfergus to look at the plan and reply to the consultants and Carrickfergus Borough Council before October 13, 2009. Future generations will thank you for saving their town.
Chairman, Carrickfergus Chamber of Commerce