Reduced repair plan for Randalstown’s Cranfield Jetty after 'substantial increase' in costs

Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors have agreed to scale down plans for the refurbishment of Cranfield Jetty in Randalstown following a “substantial increase” in costs.
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Minutes of a session behind closed doors, at a meeting of the borough council’s Community Planning Committee, last month, say that members have agreed on a proposal for a shorter jetty and/or shorter pontoon for mooring smaller boats and replacement concrete slipway.

Members were told of “significant cost increases” since the original estimate of £310,000 with the new figures undisclosed. The committee has ruled out a basic repair of the slipway and removal of remaining jetty posts which would provide access to Lough Neagh but no mooring facilities.

Council officers recommended demolition and removal of the jetty with the construction of a larger replacement slipway saying that although this would prevent boats from mooring, it would allow easy access for water sports and “facilitate access to the lough for the majority of people who wish to use it for recreational purposes, at a cost that represents value for money”. Previously, the complete removal of the jetty was estimated to cost £27,000.

Lough Neagh. Pic: Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough CouncilLough Neagh. Pic: Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council
Lough Neagh. Pic: Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council

However, it was proposed by Dunsilly Sinn Fein Councillor Annie O’Lone, seconded by Dunsilly Ulster Unionist Cllr Stewart Wilson to continue with the original approach but to opt for a reduced jetty and pontoon.

In December 2022, councillors agreed to replace the concrete slipway, refurbish part of the jetty and install a floating pontoon linked to the refurbished jetty with a galvanised walkway in a bid to boost tourism potential.

Antrim DUP Cllr Paul Dunlop BEM proposed an amendment, seconded by party colleague, Threemilewater Alderman Stephen Ross, to demolish the existing jetty and replace it with a larger slipway.

In a recorded vote, Macedon Independent Cllr Stafford Ward was also in favour of this proposal but the remaining eight committee members voted against and as a result, the amendment was not carried.

In a vote on the substantive proposal, seven members were in favour of a shorter jetty and/or pontoon with four members against.

A report to the committee said: “Members were advised that the existing jetty boardwalk has now been removed, allowing structural engineers to inspect the timber piles and supporting beams which were previously inaccessible.

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“These have been found to be in a significantly worse state than had previously been assumed and for the project to proceed as originally planned, many of these will need to be replaced.”

A study completed by the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) (Inland Waterways) has recommended the improvement and enhancement of infrastructure on Lough Neagh.

The report noted Lough Neagh Rescue has used Cranfield Jetty for training, and in case of emergency, the jetty has been used as a primary and secondary landing emergency facility. It has also been included as part of a HM Coastguard emergency procedure for aircraft landings on the lough.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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