Planners sign off on £250m scheme for Blaris

ENVIRONMENT Minister Edwin Poots has signed off on a major development plan for the Blaris area, which could see the biggest ever development - £250 million - in the city over the next ten years.

The proposals by developers Snoddons and Killultagh cover 400 acres of land between Sprucefield and Knockmore and will see major residential and business development on the site. Mr Poots said he hoped construction work could begin on the site next year.

The development includes plans for some two million square feet of business and commercial uses with potential to accommodate over 4000 new jobs, as well as the potential to provide up to 3000 new houses.

There are also plans for a neighbourhood centre to provide community services, a school and a 120 bedroom 4 star hotel.

The developers also plan to open up the southern bank of the River Lagan to create a 75 acre riverside park.

One of the most significant elements of the proposals will be the construction of a new M1 - Knockmore link road.

Sam Harris, director of Snoddons, said he was "delighted" the Development Framework had been signed off by Planners. "These proposals confirm Lisburn's position as the fastest growing City in Northern Ireland and we want to assure that level of growth continues for the next 10 years," he said.

"The location, at the vital meeting point of the M1 and A1 at Sprucefield on the edge of the City, makes Blaris the ideal location to deliver urban expansion, sustainable business development and job creation."

After signing off on the proposals, Mr Poots said: "The proposed development is of a hugely significant scale and will open up an area of Lisburn which will be unrivalled for space in any other town or city in Northern Ireland.

"It will improve the infrastructure in the city, including the development of the Knockmore Sprucefield link road and will also greatly assist in the opening up of the Maze site.

"What is particularly beneficial about this proposal is the job creation aspect," he continued. "A considerable amount of this development is given over to employment space and there will be thousands of long term jobs created once the construction work is completed.

"This I believe is one of the more significant announcements for the Lisburn area. On completion of the Planning Appeals Commission report on the number of houses that can be developed in the area, this application can then move forward with the potential for development to start next year.

"This will enter Lisburn into an exciting new phase of growth," he concluded. "I am aware that there are other significant opportunities that exist in Lisburn and I am confident that in the months ahead there will be more positive news for the area that will further improve Lisburn's status at a local, national and international level."

Lagan Valley MLA Jeffrey Donaldson welcomed the development and thanked Snoddens and Killultagh for their commitment to Lisburn.

"Obviously the future benefits for the community and local economy will be immense," he said. "I particularly welcome the prospect of the long anticipated M1-Knockmore link road which will eventually complete a ring road around the City taking much of the heavy traffic away from the City Centre. In addition, these proposals have the potential to create thousands of extra jobs during construction, providing a further and much needed boost to the local economy."

Bill Kennedy of Colliers CRE added: "We believe that this is the best strategically located site in Northern Ireland, positioned on the Belfast/Dublin corridor and this decision by the Planning Service will enhance the opportunity to attract world class inward investment activity."