An outline planning application has been submitted for 96 dwellings and 16 apartments on the former site of St Comgall’s College.
The application, by the Parish of Larne, also proposes new vehicular access from the Tower Road onto the development between Bankshead Lane and Tower Road.
After St Comgall’s college closed its doors in 2010, pupils transferred to the new St Killian’s College, and the St Comgall’s school buildings were knocked down.
The development site will include adjacent lands to the South, fronting onto Tower Road.
According to the Design and Access Statement prepared by agent The Boyd Partnership, the site, which is adjacent to Larne Leisure Centre and the Drumalis Centre, “has established natural boundaries and provides excellence (sic) degree of enclosure which will allow the proposed development to integrate into its surrounding landscape.”
It adds: “The mature natural enclosure provided will also help minimise all visual impact on the surrounding landscape.”
The statement divides the site into two areas-the elevated area where the school was situated to the North, and a heavily vegetated area to the south.
It states that “a mix of house types and tenures would be desirable...and a potential pedestrian/cycle route may improve connectivity to existing open spaces to the north and south.
Referring to access via Bankhead Lane as “substandard”, the statement says that the site layout is based on the main access being from Tower Road.
A Transport Assessment Form estimates that the site will generate 140 pedestrian trips, 22 cycle trips, 422 vehicle trips, 30 public transport trips and one HGV trip per day.
It says that the new vehicular and pedestrian access at Tower Road will reduce traffic from Bankshead Lane onto Glenarm Road and will “improve the safety and convenience of road users in this area of Larne.”
Additionally, it recommends that the developer should “support the purchase of cycles” as well as Translink Corporate Commuter Initiative travel cards for the primary residents of dwellings to influence car ownership and travel habits.
Meanwhile, the Design and Access Statement says that the development’s size and location to local amenities “does not warrant the provision of new local neighbourhood facilities.”
It adds that there is “no unacceptable adverse effect on existing or the proposed properties in terms of overlooking, loss of light, overshadowing, noise or other disturbance.”
Furthermore, the statement reveals that the scheme “will be designed to deter crime and promote personal safety.”
Former Mayor of Larne Martin Wilson, who opposed the closure of St Comgall’s and campaigned for the retention of a Catholic post-post primary school in Larne, told the Times:
“I still regret the decision to remove St Comgall’s and to move Catholic Secondary Education to St Killian’s.
“At the time we lobbied for the school to be retained in Larne. We felt it was important that secondary education be supplied to Catholic people in Larne, not to be bussing people to St Killian’s.
“Now that St Killian’s is there and the St Comgall’s site has been demolished, we are at the stage where we are seeing an opportunity for housing.
“From my point of view it’s a prime location so people will be interested to have the opportunity to purchase a house in a nice setting.
“With the market improving people are saying this is the time to try and get houses.
“It’s an elevated site overlooking Larne Lough which would be desirable for housing.
“There will be a benefit of people being able to enjoy good quality of life with a nice view.”
Mr Wilson said he hoped the development would help address the demand for good-quality affordable housing in the Larne area.
“There is a need for social housing and for housing such as bungalows for the elderly,” he stated.
“There is a need for more affordable housing, and it depends who the houses are pitched for.
A spokesperson for the Parish of Larne referred interested parties to the online planning portal at http://epicpublic.planningni.gov.uk.