Council pushing ahead with plan for new link road

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Council officers are seeking legal advice about a possible partnership arrangement aimed at delivering the proposed M1/Knockmore link road.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council has been exploring a number of potential developments which could create significant benefits for the people of the city and beyond, with a route linking the M1 at Blaris to Knockmore Road considered a priority proposal.

The local authority believes the road could provide major development opportunities for commercial and residential areas in west Lisburn, as well as alleviating traffic problems in surrounding areas.

“Independent economic forecasts, as outlined in the West Lisburn Development Framework, suggest that within four years the Blaris, Knockmore and Maze/Long Kesh planning zones could create upwards of 4,000 new jobs. The council believes that this new road would be integral to unlocking this major development potential,” a spokesperson said.

Responding to a question from Cllr Pat Catney at the council’s latest monthly meeting, Chief Executive Dr Theresa Donaldson confirmed that council officers are continuing to work with the Strategic Investment Board on the project and are taking legal advice about the type of partnership arrangement that would be required to deliver the new road.

She said a partnership involving the council, TransportNI, possibly the Maze Long Kesh Corporation and a developer would be “unique but also potentially risky.”

Dr Donaldson confirmed that members will be given an update on the issue at their next “away day”, scheduled for November 21.

Speaking at the council meeting, Mayor Brian Bloomfield described the Knockmore link road as “a key development as far as our prosperity in Lisburn and Castlereagh is concerned.”

The council spokesperson added: “While previously central government have advocated a developer-led approach, the council maintains that under the current economic climate, this is not realistic, acknowledging that some public investment up front in such a project may be necessary.

“Moving forward, the council is continuing to explore how best it can support the development of such a strategic road link through public/private investment and possible partnership arrangements, seeking the appropriate external advice where necessary.

“The council remains committed to playing its full role in the development of the Blaris/Knockmore link road and the substantial far reaching economic benefits this would bring.”