Planning approval u-turn for £45m Co Antrim retirement village

A new £45 million Carrickfergus retirement village development has been granted planning permission.
Gareth McKeown

A £45 million Co Antrim retirement village has surprisingly received the planning green light.

The north's first retirement village had been recommended for refusal, but in an unexpected move Mid and East Antrim Borough Council planning committee ruled in favour of the Carrickfergus development yesterday morning.

The 120-acre scheme, first unveiled by Kilmona Holdings in August 2017, comprises 361 residential units as well as a 94-bedroom nursing home.

The Belfast Road development also includes a spa/wellbeing centre, medical centre, neighbourhood retail and a park and ride facility providing a connection to Carrickfergus town centre.

As part of the plans, designed by Belfast-based Coogan & Co Architects, a total of 42 acres of the site is also to be developed into parkland, incorporating walking trails.

The developer estimates that the cost of developing the site will be £45m and will create 300 jobs through the construction phase and sustain a further 100 jobs when completed.

Kilmona project manager Alan Mains said they are looking forward to breathing new life into a site "badly in need of regeneration".

“A retirement village of this scale is a first for Northern Ireland and we can see in other parts of the world how they have proven extremely successful and have added life to the towns in which they are located."

Stephen Blaney, design director at Coogan and Co Architects added: “This is an exciting project which we believe will be very popular. Mid and East Antrim Borough Council recognise that retirement care villages will provide onsite staff availability and a concentration of services which eliminates the difficulty of providing care over a wide geographical area.

"The retirement village proposal gives an opportunity to provide safe and suitable housing to a growing population of older people. In doing so, we will be able to deliver quality care in a timely and cost-efficient manner benefiting both the residents and the council."

Meanwhile the proposed regeneration of St Patrick's Barracks, Ballymena has moved a step closer after planning approval was granted for the former military base.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council planning committee granted outline planning permission yesterday for the the creation of a flagship, shared, mixed use, housing-led regeneration scheme at the former British army base.

Plans for the site include up to 140 homes, a £30m leisure health and wellbeing centre and new road network.

The local council also hopes to locate an Integrated Industrial Inspiration and Innovation Campus on the site to arm local people with the skills to compete on a global stage as digital innovators and entrepreneurs.

The scheme is being brought forward by the Department for Communities, working closely with the council and other stakeholders and statutory agencies.

Paul Carr from the Department for Communities said they are delighted to receive planning approval for the Ballymena site.

"This is an important step and represents the achievement of a major milestone in the regeneration of this site," he said.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council chief executive, Anne Donaghy added:

“The plans for the St Patrick's Barracks site set out a hugely exciting future for the town. It is great to reach this milestone and move one step closer to the exciting plans becoming a reality."

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