Council uproar over £43 million Translink car park lease in LIsburn

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Plans for a multi-million pound railway overhaul in Lisburn have sparked major concerns over car parking in the city.

The £43 million investment by Translink is aimed at transforming the line between Lambeg Station and Lissue level crossing.

But the plan prompted some anger from councillors over the loss of free car parking spaces which they say had been agreed without proper consultation.

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The major works started in November and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2024.

Lisburn Councillor Andrew EwingLisburn Councillor Andrew Ewing
Lisburn Councillor Andrew Ewing

As a condition of the work Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council’s (LCCC) environment committee was asked to approve the temporary lease of an area of Benson Street off-street car park to Translink. The carpark would be used as a compound for the storage of Translink equipment during the track renewal project works.

A council officer informed the chamber that the licence to Translink had already been signed off, “by the chair and vice chair” with the matter brought before members to “retrospectively approve” and “get a council minute”.

However, there was uproar from councillors stating they had not been consulted with concerns for city centre employees facing 18 months without free car parking spaces.

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Lisburn South councillor Andrew Ewing said: “Where is all the overflow from the carpark going? There is already a terrible issue with illegal parking in the city centre, this will now create mayhem.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council headquarters at Lagan Valley IslandLisburn and Castlereagh City Council headquarters at Lagan Valley Island
Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council headquarters at Lagan Valley Island

“We all know where this is going to end up with people parking where they really shouldn’t.”

The Translink investment for the city was acknowledged in the chamber, but it was felt that local people had now been thrown under the proverbial bus.

Lisburn South councillor Alan Givan (DUP) said: “The investment by Translink is quite the sum of money, but we are looking at 50% of the free carparking being lost for 18 months.

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“This is one of the few carparks used by city centre staff and those who car share. These people will now be displaced.

“Has there been any thought for these employees who will now be disenfranchised?”

A council official stated that a ticket drop had been delivered on vehicles in the carpark informing owners of the potential closure with reference to other car parks “not fully utilised” in the city.

However, Lisburn South Alderman Paul Porter (DUP) demanded that a new traffic survey be carried out.

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He said: “I might be confused, I do apologise, but was this matter before the committee before or did I miss it?

“Well, I can’t give you that minute you are looking for. There needs to be a further report done before anything is agreed. There should be a survey over four weeks.

“There will be traffic displaced by this and we will have a problem later on down the line. There also needs to be information given out on social media to allow car parking in the area until a genuine survey is done.”

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With a reminder that the lease had already been agreed, the matter was unresolved.

LCCC members then voted to bring the committee meeting in to confidential session to shut out the public and the press from the chamber discussions.