A Larne man has claimed that proposals for a new cemetery at a site on Brustin Brae would put residents’ lives at risk.
Norman Roddy, who has lived on the road for 27 years, says local people have been left frustrated after Larne Borough Council failed to consult them on the plans.
They feel they can walk over the residents and ignore us. It’s frustrating that they haven’t contacted us. We feel that they are treating us almost with contempt.Resident Norman Roddy
It recently emerged that the new Mid and East Antrim Council has ring-fenced a sum of money to deliver a new burial ground at the site.
However, Mr Roddy says that local opposition to the proposal, first suggested in 2008, remains undimmed, with concerns over poor roads infrastructure, parking, public safety, litter, pollution and privacy.
He told the Times: “The entrance to the proposed cemetery is just 60m from the busy traffic junction of Killyglen Road, Upper Cairncastle Road and Ballycraigy Road. A funeral cortege turning into Brustin Brae Road, with just a small number of following vehicles coming to a stop at the entrance, will undoubtedly cause serious traffic disruption out on the other roads.
“Other mourners will have gathered outside the gates awaiting the hearse. During all of this, traffic on the road will be totally disrupted, creating a serious and dangerous situation.
“We have had a few little boy racers, you just need one coming round too quickly and there would be a pile-up and carnage.”
Mr Roddy says that residents have already experienced “serious problems” during occasional ceremonies at the nearby Presbyterian Hall and Methodist Church, and fears that the situation would become “intolerable” if the cemetery goes ahead.
He explained: “Despite the fact both (churches) have their own large car parks, even at Sunday service there will be several cars parked along the roadside, usually half-on the footpath.
“When a wedding or funeral service is in progress the numbers expand, with cars parked on the grass areas at the main traffic junction and right down to the Argyll Avenue turn-in.
“Some vehicles park directly across our driveways.
“The result is blockage of the footpath to the point members of the public walking their dogs or pushing child buggies are forced to walk on the road, which has now been narrowed to a point only one vehicle can pass through.
“This puts the public in a very serious and potentially life-threatening situation as there is literally nowhere to go, especially when two or three cars meet head-on.
“The church and church hall only host such events a few times a year, which is tolerable, but to be faced with it every day, sometimes two or three times, would be intolerable.
“In addition, the road is not gritted in winter and has a dip. I don’t believe it is in a suitable condition to be used by a hearse and large numbers of mourners.”
The resident also raised concerns over increased litter and carbon monoxide emissions as well as the impact on the water table from the development.
When the new burial site was first proposed in 2008, local residents signed a petition of objection, which was presented to Larne Borough Council.
However, Mr Roddy says that residents’ opinions have been ignored by elected representatives.
“No one from Larne Council, or from the new MEA supercouncil, has been in touch with us. They feel they can walk over the residents and ignore us. It’s frustrating that they haven’t contacted us. We feel that they are treating us almost with contempt,” he stated.
While Mr Roddy says he acknowledges the need for a new burial site within the Larne area, he believes that an alternative site further away from residential housing should be sought. He continued: “I don’t know of any other case where a cemetery has been developed beside residential properties.
“Residents will have people and mourners standing outside their doors several times a week, which is not conducive to living and is an invasion of their privacy. It will cause traffic problems both for Brustin Brae and Argyll Estate residents.
“When Craigyhill cemetery was originally opened a field to the back of the existing cemetery was designated for an extension, but that was dropped and they started looking at other locations. I believe they have also considered the old cemetery in Kilwaughter.
“No one can tell me there is not a field somewhere in Larne that is rural, suitable and wouldn’t cause disruption,” he concluded.
The NIEA confirmed that it has raised concerns regarding potential polluting impacts which the proposed development may have on groundwater quality.
A spokesperson for MEA Council commented: “Mid and East Antrim are aware of ongoing issues around long term cemetery provision within our Borough.
“We understand that significant work has been undertaken by Larne Borough Council to resolve outstanding issues from the original planning application for the provision of a new Cemetery in Larne.
“A full assessment of the current position will be undertaken by Mid and East Antrim, as part of the long term review of this service.”