Belfast Telegraph

Ambitious housing schemes could return as Antrim site gets go-ahead

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland could be seeing a return to large-scale housebuilding after planning permission was confirmed for a £60m development of nearly 400 homes in Antrim.

The Belmont Hall site of 393 homes, from Antrim Construction Company, is thought to be the biggest scheme in the town for around 10 years. A spokesman for the firm said: "It will be a 10 to 15-year construction programme which they hope to begin as soon as possible, so in our view we may be approaching a return to the large-scale housebuilding seen previously."

A mix of detached, semis and apartments are being built by the company along the Six Mile River on Belmont Road in Antrim.

John Armstrong, managing director of the Construction Employers Federation, commented: "Over the course of its build programme, the scheme will generate significant direct and indirect economic benefits - from the number of employees engaged on the site, to the economic multiplier for the extensive supply chain, to the provision of much-needed new homes to the local community. The progression of important new housing developments has been a key and welcome theme within the industry in recent months. However, we must see that grow further so as to meet our clear, new housing needs.

"To achieve this we must continue to see improvements in planning decision times, the addressing of critical industry challenges such as bond availability and adoption and, as councils develop their own area plans, the zoning of appropriate amounts of land to meet our community's needs."

A spokesman for Antrim Construction Company continued: "The £60m development will create 50 sustainable construction jobs throughout the anticipated 10-year construction programme and will contribute towards the council's growth ambitions."

And he said the firm had listened to concerns about the site's impact on the river. "We have worked particularly closely with Six Mile Water River Trust and Antrim District Angling Association to provide assurances on the watercourse and flooding-related issues, and their constructive contribution to the scheme is much appreciated."

Philip Brett, chairman of Antrim and Newtownabbey Council planning committee, which approved the scheme, said it wished "to promote positive development that maintains vibrant and welcoming places, protects our environment and supports economic growth. This decision will help to achieve this goal."

Belfast Telegraph

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