Lindara roads issue is ‘a lesson for house buyers’ – MLA Beggs

A RESIDENT of Larne’s Lindara estate has called on the Roads Service to bring streets and footpaths in the area up to standard “as a matter of urgency”.

Sunday, 8th April 2012, 12:01 am

Lorrie Campbell spoke of her frustration that four years after moving into her home at Lindara Close, some of the infrastructure in the development has still not been completed.

And she told the Times she is now scared to let her two-year-old son play in the street outside her house after he tripped on a pothole and suffered injuries to his face.

Lorrie said: “Ashton was outside playing with some of the other children when he fell at a pothole and landed on his face. He split his lip and suffered a nasty cut under his eye, which will likely scar.

“But this isn’t the first time people have been injured due to the roads and footpaths not being up to standard. My husband fell and broke his arm on the road and one of our neighbours broke her toe after tripping on a kerb.

“We have been waiting for years for the roads and footpaths to be finished and something needs to be done soon before someone else is hurt.”

The Times has learned that the company responsible for the Lindara development went into administration in 2009, leaving roads, footways, street lighting, storm drains, sewers and manholes incomplete.

But, as previously reported in the Times, builders’ bonds totalling nearly £800,000 will now be cashed in to pay for the installation of utilities at Lindara.

A roads bond is a sum of money which a private developer has to deposit in a financial institution as a form of surety to ensure that the roads, street light and sewers are properly finished. If the developer fails to undertake the work, the Department for Regional Development can draw down the funds to pay for the work, enabling the roads to be formally adopted and maintained in the future.

It was recently revealed that Lindara is the housing development with the highest value of outstanding roads bonds in the whole of Northern Ireland.

East Antrim MLA, Roy Beggs said he is continuing to press Roads Service for a timescale for work to bring the roads and drains servicing Lindara up to standard.

The Ulster Unionist representative said: “Deidre Mackle, the divisional roads manager for our area, has confirmed to me in writing that none of the streets, footpaths, drains and sewers servicing Lindara are adopted, but that what is known as Article 11 enforcement action has been initiated to draw down the bonds which the developer had secured to make sure that the outstanding work is completed.

“I have been told that large scale works are required to bring the streets to adoption standard where the public authorities - specifically DRD Roads Service and NI Water - will take on responsibility for upkeep and maintenance.”

A spokesman for Roads Service told the Times that repairs to street lighting and roads have already been carried out in the Lindara area. “When NI Water has completed their works, Roads Service will complete the final resurfacing,” he added.

Mr Beggs said he had received assurances that NI Water has offered to carry out all remedial work to the sewers, and that Roads Service is liaising with them regarding a start date, programming and costing. “Once the work on the sewers is complete, there will be roadworks to achieve completion of the services, roads and footpaths, which will lead to adoption,” the UUP man added.

Adoption is the term used when a local authority, either Roads Service or council, takes over responsibility for new streets, provided they meet construction standards. The adoption also means that the local authority takes over the responsibility to repair defects if any arise in the future. Without adoption of the area, the responsibility could remain with local residents.

Mr Beggs said he shared the frustration of Lindara residents regarding the length of time this process was taking.

“The company which built Lindara made unfulfilled promises about finishing street and footpath surfaces and then went into administration. The saving grace is that the roads bonds are there and can now be utilised, but the whole process has been slow and bureaucratic.

“The adoption system is currently subject of a Regional Development Committee enquiry, but in the specific case of Lindara, I will continue to press Roads Service and NI Water to draw down the bond money and get the necessary work done as soon as possible.

“There is also a salutary lesson here for house buyers. Always use the ‘buyer beware rule’ when purchasing. Where no road bonds exists, residents fronting onto that street could ultimately have to bear the extra costs of bringing the development roads up to adoptable standards before Roads Service will assume responsibility. There is also a responsibility on conveyancing solicitors to properly advice would be house buyers about these matters,” Mr Beggs concluded.