Residents fighting proposals for the construction of around 650 new homes at Draynes Farm in Lisburn have started an online campaign to highlight their concerns.
The ‘Lisburn Residents Opposed to Housing Development at Draynes Farm Land’ Facebook page, which was set up last month by Ballymacash Regeneration Network, has already been ‘liked’ by more than 300 people.
Laura Turner, manager of the community centre in Ballymacash, said the group has been “inundated” with queries and complaints from residents who are concerned about what’s being proposed for the Glenavy Road/Brokerstown Road site.
Stressing that there has been “a massive influx of people” into the area in recent years due to the building of several new residential developments, she said local residents have serious concerns about the possibility of hundreds more new homes being built.
“Numerous people have complained to us and we have not heard one positive comment about what is being proposed,” Laura told the Ulster Star.
“Schools [shortage of places for local children] and roads [traffic congestion and road safety issues] would be the two main points people are concerned about.
“We believe there should be no more new housing until the infrastructure problems in the area are dealt with.”
Another Ballymacash resident, who didn’t want to be named, added: “The school [Ballymacash Primary] is already oversubscribed, the roads are congested and there are drainage problems in the area. The infrastructure simply couldn’t cope with another 650 houses.”
Despite a public consultation evening having been held in Ballymacash Primary School last month to discuss the new housing plans, disgruntled residents have claimed that many people didn’t know anything about the event.
Laura stressed that the Facebook page is a platform for the group to highlight what’s being proposed at Draynes Farm, and allow local people to express their views and concerns.
A spokesperson for the company behind the proposed development, MS Drayne, confirmed that the land is zoned for housing and that up to 650 new homes could be built on the 84-acre site over a period of 10 years.
She stressed that no planning application has yet been submitted and that the project is still at the community consultation stage.
Responding to residents’ concerns about the consultation process, the spokesperson said details of the public meeting at Ballymacash Primary School were contained in leaflets which were distributed to 1,500 homes and businesses in the local area, and advertised in two newspapers.
“We have gone over and above what we are required to do because we feel that is the right thing to do,” she said. “We want to know what people think and we want to hear their opinions about what is being proposed and how we can make things better for them.”
Acknowledging that some local residents have serious concerns about the potential impact on traffic problems and road safety issues, the spokesperson revealed that the developer is committed to making significant road improvements in the area, and said that “work to upgrade the local road network will be an integral part of the development.”
The spokesperson stressed that anyone with concerns about the proposed development will be able to raise them during the formal planning process.
It’s understood the first phase of the scheme at Draynes Farm could see a planning application submitted for around 100 new homes. However, it hasn’t yet been confirmed when that application is likely to be lodged.