Village development plan revealed

David Worthington, Partner Pragma Planning; Philip Coulter of Coulter Homes; Councillor James Tinsley; Councillor Jim Dillon; Rob Lewis of QTH Ltd and Gary McGhee Head of the Planning & Environmental Law Team for Carson McDowell.
David Worthington, Partner Pragma Planning; Philip Coulter of Coulter Homes; Councillor James Tinsley; Councillor Jim Dillon; Rob Lewis of QTH Ltd and Gary McGhee Head of the Planning & Environmental Law Team for Carson McDowell.

Two local building companies have announced plans for an investment that should secure 120 skilled construction jobs over the next three years.

That’s if plans for the £20 million investment are passed by the Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council in early 2016.

Over half (£12.5M) of the investment is earmarked for Maghaberry, where the developers QTH Ltd and Coulter Homes have established a new Community Fund.

It will invest a capital sum of £126,000 and it is expected that these funds could be used to leverage up to £500,000 through match funding and European Grant initiatives.

Rob Lewis, Managing Director of QTH Ltd said: “The decision on whether this investment can be made in supporting local jobs and investing in the community is now down to the Council under their new local planning powers. Each planning application must now reflect tangible social and economic benefit which means that the new planning system should deliver consistently for each specific area and consequently benefit the whole of Northern Ireland.”

The QTH and Coulter Homes consortium said it had already conducted a major public consultation exercise which it described as a model for future community involvement.

The result, it said, was a change in traffic management for the project involving co-operation from the Council, Roads Service and further investment by the builders.

“Other benefits we have introduced,” said Rob Lewis, “include the Community Centre getting direct access to full mains waste services and the further footfall generated in the village should support the development of local retail offerings which has in some cases struggled due to the size of the village.

“The £126,000 Community Investment Fund is something we believe is a first in Northern Ireland but should be a model expected of builders by other Councils to ensure a real commitment to building and supporting communities.”

Alderman Jim Dillion welcomed the investment.

“The fact that two local companies are re-investing in the community, driving jobs and supporting a critical economic supply chain gives a vitally positive message that we are in a great place to live and work,” he said.

Alderman James Tinsley added: “Maghaberry is one of the success stories of our Council area and while we want to protect its very special village atmosphere I believe this kind of measured development will maintain its vibrancy but also encourage other much needed investment.”