New £5m filling station outside Ballymena expected to create 100 jobs

A planning application for a new £5m filling station outside Ballymena was approved by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Planning Committee at a meeting on Thursday morning.
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The proposed development by East Coast Fuels is to be located on land between Ballee Road East and M2 Motorway immediately south of the Larne Road Roundabout.

Vehicular access is proposed by a new access onto Ballee Road East. A petrol station with shop, drive-through restaurant, electric vehicle fast charging and internet cafe is being planned on a 3.8 hectare site.

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Senior planning officer Kyle Patterson described it as “a modern motorway services facility”. He indicated it will be screened by existing mature vegetation. He noted permission has been granted previously for a 60-bedroom hotel, restaurant and filling station at the location.

View from Larne Road Roundabout. Pic: Mid and East Antrim Borough CouncilView from Larne Road Roundabout. Pic: Mid and East Antrim Borough Council
View from Larne Road Roundabout. Pic: Mid and East Antrim Borough Council

Planning agent Tom Stokes said: “This is an exciting proposal for roadside services.” He described it as “a significant investment” which is expected to create 100 full and part-time jobs.

Larne Lough DUP Alderman Paul Reid said: “This is an exciting application. It is a good news story for Ballymena. If you were driving from Belfast towards Coleraine, this gives another opportunity for fuel, cafe and electric charging.”

Added Bonus

Mr Stokes commented: “It is an ideal location off Larne Road Roundabout with traffic moving in both directions. An added bonus is that it brings employment to the borough. This is doing that precisely.”

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Bannside Ulster Unionist Councillor Jackson Minford asked if there would be a deceleration lane.

“I would be worried traffic coming off the roundabout would have to brake pretty sharply to turn left. I would ask for a slip lane to try to make it a bit safer.”

Mr Stokes replied: “There is a left slip as you come off Larne Road Roundabout.”

Cllr Minford continued: “I am talking about something rather than a right angle turn to allow vehicles to make a better movement in. Traffic does come off the roundabout sometimes at speed.”

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Mr Stokes replied: “Roads Service have assessed it and are happy with the entrance.”

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Cllr MInford went on to ask if there would be signage. He was told there will be a separate application for signs and brands and confirmed there are “end users” in the pipeline.

Bannside DUP Ald Tom Gordon said: “I think it is an ideal location for this facility. It is a much-needed facility. These EV charging points are needed and I am glad to hear it will create in the region of 100 jobs.”

Ald Reid proposed accepting the officer’s recommendation to approve planning permission, seconded by party colleague Bannside Cllr Tyler Hoey before being approved.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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