A huge housing estate of more than 1,300 homes in Lisburn to be built near the M1 motorway has been approved.
The development will be either side of the Maze/Long Kesh site, Balmoral Park and in the vicinity of Blaris.
A new £12m road linking the M1 to Knockmore Road has also been given the go-ahead, together with permission in principle for 750,000sqft of commercial floor space.
Around 9,000 jobs will be created over the next 20 years, according to planners.Neptune Carleton LLP has applied to build the houses, spread over a parcel of land which had been earmarked for development by Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.
The master plan for the neighbourhood will also see the creation of a riverside park alongside the Lagan, with attractive landscaped and woodland walkways connecting to a range of new housing.
A 200-bed hotel, community hub of local shops and other facilities will also be included, following the realignment and upgrade to Blaris Road.
An additional £500,000 will be awarded to Translink with the aim of creating a new park and ride system.
The planning consultant added that the link would be finished before the summer of 2023.
The project was split into two major applications for outline permission which Lisburn and Casltereagh's planning committee considered for over three hours before coming to a decision.
Speaking in favour of the £250m project, Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who joined the meeting remotely, said the proposal had "enormous commercial benefits" for Lisburn in the long term.
He added: "For me the biggest aspect that we are talking about today is the link road and the potential that it creates for the city of Lisburn."
However, Alliance councillor Martin Gregg said that if members voted in favour of the application's breakdown of 65% for housing and the other 35% for employment, then they would be "selling the crown jewels".
"I don't understand how this council finds it acceptable to sacrifice the potential of that employment land for future years," Mr Gregg added.
"The Oxford report based on this project says that at least 50% of the land should be for employment but we are prepared to accept 35% as a council. It seems to me that we are selling the crown jewels."
Those against the applications said the plans would have an impact on wildlife, increase traffic and have a potentially negative impact on the area's character.
Alderman Amanda Grehan also had concerns over the two applications. The Alliance representative said the proposed 10% of affordable houses (130 homes) in the development was "well short" of what was required.
She added: "The average house price in Lisburn is higher than the highest in Northern Ireland. I feel that does stop our children from purchasing houses and younger families too. I would ask that we look at putting a condition in that would add an additional 5% for affordable housing in the area."
The application for the development received cross-party support, except for councillor Martin Gregg who voted against the plans, while the application for the link road off the M1 was passed unanimously.
Credit: Belfast Telegraph