Monday, 7 November 2011

Carrickmore Road, Ballycastle - Some Correspondence

Local people and many visitors would consider Carrickmore Road, Ballycastle, to be part of the public roads network, a network that is maintained by the Roads Service of Northern Ireland. Local historians like Danny McGill have demonstrated that this road, formerly known as Old Colliery Road, has been a public road for many generations; it is marked as such on an old deed map. Old postcards and photographs show the road continuing past 'Marconi's Cottage'. Local historians are quite clear that the Marconi radio transmission experiments were carried out, not from this old coalyard site but from one in the down, down by the harbour.

To the best of my knowledge, this site and the land across the road are currently in the possession of Alan Fraser, developer son of the late Fred Fraser. Povall Worthington, on behalf of the owner, made a presentation to Moyle District Council on 29 July 2011, seeking the acquiescence of the Council to the abandonment of about 40 metres of road to the west of the dwelling.

[* Danny gave Alan an onsite detailed account of the location in 2009.]

[Council] Members were shown a slide of the proposed site plan.  This displayed a proposed gate posts and barrier at the end of the existing car park allowing pedestrian access only beyond this point.  Mr Humes stated that this measure was to stop the access of vehicles and that there was no intention to stop pedestrian traffic. .. He stated that Roads Service had been in agreement with the concept of abandonment but that any such abandonment would have to include a long term agreement for pedestrian access.

Council rejected the request made by Mr Fraser's agent and shortly afterwards Danny Kennedy, the DRD Minister responsible for roads, backed the Council position.

Two Freedom of Information requests and other correspondence have shed some light on the background to this saga:

Brian W Murray Ltd - 4 December 2009: "This is a privately owned access cul-de-sac road .." [source p1]

Had it been privately owned, the developer would not be seeking abandonment of varying stretches of it. Has the land on the south side of the road got development potential?

The map [source p4] shows that the initial request was for the abandonment of about 300 metres of road west as far as the North Star Dyke. Roads Service consulted internally the same month [source p5].

Brian W Murray Ltd - 21 December 2009: "The client has asked that I follow this matter up with you to see if there is anything more I could do for you in order to help the process progress further" [source p7]

Roads Service - 19 January 2010 - Consent to carry out excavation in, or break up the surface of the road - Consent No BM3/10: Receipt No 852964: "The works shall be completed within a period of 6 months from the date of the consent. .. You shall maintain the road or footway affected by your works as required by the Department and carry out reinstatement of any damage arising from your works".
[source p 9]

10 November 2011 - The road has yet to be reinstated as so required.

Povall Worthington submitted a series of Planning Service permission drawings to Road Service on 20 January 2010 [source p10] In the plan the public road on the deed sketch and on OS maps is labelled 'existing lane'. [source p 13]. Why did PW make this mistake and why was the error not corrected by PS? Why has part of the road in front of the house been grassed over, seemingly without permission?

Roads Service - 25 January 2010 to B W Murray Ltd: "As you are aware Carrickmore Road is a public road. .. In the mid '90s a similar but much smaller scale proposal failed for the same reasons as noted above. Unless the 'applicant' can demonstrate the acceptability of abandonment [of part of this public road] to Council/local owners/local public, etc, we do not intend to progress this request any further [source pp15-16]

B W Murray Ltd to Roads Service - 28 January 2010 [cc PW]: "I was hoping to chat through the possibility of the abandonment being reconsidered but on a much smaller scale. .. Please note that our client is very keen to achieve some level of privacy and moreover security to his property. Therefore would be open to any suggestions you may have eg a compromise such as only abandoning the last 30-40-50m say." - 9 February 2010 [ccPW]: "Again as mentioned previously, our client is very keen to get some level of security to his property, so any compromise would be welcome." [source p 17]

Why did the client/owner and/or his agents not approach Council as directed following the Roads Service response dated 25 January 2010 instead of continuing to pressurise Roads Service?

Roads Service to B W Murray Ltd - 26 February 2010: "Unfortunately, Roads Service is not prepared to commend the abandonment process for a revised area until your client can clearly demonstrate that full agreement on such a proposal has been agreed not only with Moyle District Council but also any other landowner/s beyond the cottage. .. One possibility for discussion with Council and others would be for a proposed abandonment at the eastern end of this area, retaining the parking area within the public road." [source p 19]

Roads Service to Contractor - 2 August 2010 [cc D Worthington, Pragma]: "I would now ask you for the confirmation of the date when you will remove all barriers, gates, deposited spoil, site offices, etc. and to ensure that the full extent of this adopted public road is returned to its former state without defect or blemish as was the case prior to the commencement of your work." [source p 27]
[to be continued]