Supermarket plan sparks renewed calls for road safety improvements

The Knockmore Road/Ballinderry Road junction. Pic by Google
The Knockmore Road/Ballinderry Road junction. Pic by Google

Planning approval for a new supermarket development on Ballinderry Road, Lisburn has sparked renewed calls for long-awaited safety improvements on nearby Knockmore Road.

The council’s Planning Committee last week gave the green light for redevelopment of the former Down Royal pub site. However, there has been a mixed reaction to the decision, with some welcoming the prospect of investment and new jobs, while others say roads in the area must be upgraded before there is any further development.

More than 1,600 people have already signed a petition on the change.org website calling for urgent junction safety improvements on the busy Knockmore Road. And one local woman, who wanted to be identified only as ‘a concerned ratepayer’, contacted the Star this week to express “complete shock and disbelief” at the decision to permit further development in the area while the roadworks promised by a number of housing developers more than a decade ago still haven’t been completed.

“How can the council justify more development in the area without the necessary works bring carried out first? The Prince William, Brokerstown and Ballinderry Road junctions have been left without improvement for too long. The council owes it to residents to step in and make sure this work is carried out without further delay,” she said.

“I know several people who have been in accidents at these junctions and are lucky to still be with us. People have been killed on this road and sadly more fatalities appear to be inevitable.

“Winter will be on us soon, making these junctions even more dangerous. We need action now.”

Responding to concerns raised by the disgruntled ratepayer and others, a council spokesperson said: “As part of the recent approval of the planning application for a supermarket on the Ballinderry Road, land has been made available to support wider road improvements adjacent to the site.

“The council and Department for Infrastructure (DfI) are still in discussions about the wider infrastructure needs of the area around Brokerstown and the Knockmore areas.”

In March this year the Star reported how the completion of long-awaited safety improvements on Knockmore Road could still be some way off due to a dispute over completion of the works.

The DfI insists that three construction firms behind residential developments in the area are responsible for carrying out improvements at the Prince William Road and Ballinderry Road junctions, and also at the nearby Ballymacash Road / Prince William Road intersection. However, it’s understood the firms are unhappy that the department has changed the upgrade plans that were originally agreed, meaning the cost of the required works has increased significantly and could now run to several million pounds.

While the council has called on TransportNI to push the developers to carry out the works, the department says it is council planners who are responsible for enforcing an Article 40 planning agreement with the building companies involved.

Meanwhile, in September this year a development company unveiled plans for the construction of a 1.6km link road between the M1 motorway at Sprucefield and Knockmore Road.

The firm, Dungannon-based Neptune Carleton LLP, also submitted a proposal of application notice for outline planning permission for a mixed use development, including 1,300 new homes, on a 56.6 hectare site at Blaris.

• Read full story - Link road plan moves a step closer