ROADS Service have put the brakes on plans for an M1/A1 link road at Sprucefield.

In a report presented to Lisburn City Council by the Eastern Division of Roads Service, councillors were told there was no money for the scheme, until at least the end of 2015.

The proposed project, which is included in the Strategic Route Improvement Scheme, will provide a high standard link between the M1 motorway and the A1.

It will be of major benefit to the strategic traffic in reducing journey times by avoiding delays in the Sprucefield area.

Roads Service has commissioned consultants to consider a range of options and an evaluation of all the viable options for capacity enhancement along the route.

The first stage of the process has already been completed to determine which further options will be examined.

However, local residents, who will be most affected by the new link road, have been left in limbo, with no clear indication of which of the route options will be used by Roads Service if and when the link road gets the go ahead.

The Roads Service has said that the scheme has been put on hold for at least three years due to financial constraints.

In their Autumn Report, which was presented to the Planning Committee of Lisburn City Council, Roads Service stated: “Unfortunately due to the current budget restrictions, there is insufficient funding to allow development work to continue on this scheme proposal during the current financial year.

“This is anticipated to remain the case until the end of the current budget period in 2015. Progression of the scheme beyond this period will be subject to available funding.”

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson, who has been contacted by concerned residents in the area, whose land could be vested if the scheme goes ahead, said he was seeking a meeting with the Division Roads Manager to discuss the matter. He also said he would be contacting the Roads Minister to urge him to prioritise the scheme, which could prove to be vital to the future development of the Sprucefield area.

“This is disappointing news because the link road is important to improving traffic flow on this vital road,” said Mr Donaldson.

“It is also an important component of the future of Sprucefield, including the proposed John Lewis store.”

Mr Donaldson continued: “Another aspect of this is that there are several options on the table at the moment for the route of this proposed link road, with the result that there is a lot of uncertainty for local residents and I am aware in some cases people whose property will be affected and it is really unfair that people are going to have to wait three more years to know if the road is going to pass through their property.

“I have asked for a meeting with the Divisional Roads Manager to press this issue and will be seeking a meeting with the Roads Minister to ensure priority is given to this scheme.

“It is time to clear up the uncertainty and at least Roads Service ought to select a preferred route so that we can have a clear idea of the scheme,” he concluded.