Shore Road roadworks: Abbey Centre experiencing 10 per cent drop in footfall, claim

Management have spoken of the challenges facing the Abbey Centre in Newtownabbey during the current programme of Phoenix Gas works in the Shore Road area.
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Work commenced on the latest phase of the ‘Shore Road Reinforcement Project’ on Monday. January 8, with the scheme, extending to Fortwilliam Park, expected to be completed by June of this year.

From Monday, January 8 until Sunday, January 28, a full road closure was operating on the Shore Road from the junction of the Doagh Road to Longwood Road with a diversion in place. This phase of works followed a 26-week Phoenix Gas pipeline installation scheme between June and December 2023 in the Belfast-bound carriageway of the Shore Road from Station Road, Whiteabbey, back towards Carrickfergus.

Throughout the works, additional congestion has been reported in the area, while the nearby Abbey Centre claims that footfall has decreased.

Abbey Centre, Newtownabbey. (Pic: Google).Abbey Centre, Newtownabbey. (Pic: Google).
Abbey Centre, Newtownabbey. (Pic: Google).

A spokesperson for the Longwood Road-based retail facility told the Newtownabbey Times: “Abbey Centre footfall is currently down an estimated 10 per cent year-on-year because of the works. We anticipate this downward trend will get worse as the works progress.

"The staff of Abbey Centre are finding it increasingly difficult to get to and from work as traffic builds up on the Church Road and O’Neill Road.

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"Abbey Centre is also landlocked, resulting in further build up along the Longwood Road. Abbey Centre, Centre Management team met with Phoenix Gas in November 2023 to discuss the planned works. To date Centre Management has not had any contact from the Department for Infrastructure.

“Abbey Centre has not published communication reminding customers that the stores and businesses are still trading during the works and encouraging people to support the centre, however, Phoenix Gas has installed roadside digital message boards redirecting traffic to the centre.”

Phoenix Energy says it has engaged with stakeholders to “ensure works are carried out with minimal impact”.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the utility provider said: “Phoenix Energy are carrying out essential network reinforcement works on the Shore Road Newtownabbey to support the needs of our existing and growing customer base. We regret the impact these works are having to some local businesses and commuter traffic.

"We have, and continue to engage closely with third party agencies, local businesses, and local representatives to ensure works are carried out with minimal impact, and all possible mitigations are in place.

“The current phase of works that are operating in close proximity to the Abbey Centre, are scheduled to complete by February 16. We are pleased that during this particular phase of works, we have been able to adjust traffic control measures in a way that we believe has improved traffic flows in the area.

"We encourage members of the public to keep up to date with the progress of these works by visiting phoenixenergyni.com/shoreroadreinforcement

"We want to thank you for your patience and understanding during this final phase of network reinforcement in this area.”

Posting on the Traffic Watch Northern Ireland website, a Department for Infrastructure (DfI) spokesperson said: “This phase of works will impact local commuter traffic and we recommend allowing extra time for journey.”

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