THE ‘gifting’ of 40 acres of land in the Galgorm area which was originally announced during the sale of Wrightbus last year has now been accepted by Mid & East Antrim Council, it has emerged.
And now there are high hopes that the Council will be able to swiftly develop the land at Galgorm to attract new jobs.
Council minutes show the Council has agreed to accept the transfer of approximately 40 acres of land at Galgorm Road, Ballymena, from ‘Whirlwind Property Two Limited’.
Details were given in minutes of discussions held during ‘closed council’.
The short reference to the issue in the minutes was under the heading ‘Wrightbus, Potential Transfer of Lands at Galgorm Road, Ballymena’.
Companies House lists Jeff Wright as one of the people involved with ‘Whirlwind Property Two Limited’.
Last year when Wrightbus reached a deal to sell the company to Jo Bamford, Jeff Wright of Wrightbus made reference to the 40 acres in a statement.
The statement said: “Mr Bamford’s firm will acquire the entire premises at Galgorm including the factory, fixtures and fittings as well as the associated land.
“Wishing Mr Bamford every success Mr Wright confirmed that he had gifted 40 acres of family owned farmland to Mid and East Antrim Council by way of a legacy for the people of Ballymena in recognition of their contribution over 70 years to the service of Wrightbus.
Speaking about his decision Mr Wright had said: “This legacy gift is a tribute not only to my father, his father before him, and the Wright family members but most importantly it is a tribute to the generations of workers who helped build a proud manufacturing tradition in Ballymena.
“It is my true wish to see this legacy used for the purposes of expanding manufacturing and benefiting our local community.”
Also last year, North Antrim MP Ian Paisley, speaking to the BBC said, he understood the farm land had been set aside as a “gift” to Mid & East Antrim Borough Council “and will be a tribute to William Wright for his industrial prowess so there could be some other industrial activity take place on that”.
Mr Paisley said that was a very good way of marking Sir William Wright’s legacy to the area.
Also last year, TUV Councillor Timothy Gaston had said: “The gifting of this legacy land to the people of Ballymena is a remarkable gesture, and I have no doubt it will be key to more jobs for our people and the growth of our advanced manufacturing sector in Mid and East Antrim.”
Last autum the Council said they were in ongoing negotiations with Queen’s University in terms of research and development support, and the 40 acre site would be proposed to form a key asset in the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (AMIC) project, which was part of Belfast Region City Deal and also part of Council’s ‘advanced manufacturing ecosystem vision’.