Businesses look set to lose out when road goes ahead

Millennium Way, Lurgan looking towards businesses on Malcolm Road including Alwoods.  INLM3014-406
Millennium Way, Lurgan looking towards businesses on Malcolm Road including Alwoods. INLM3014-406
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Job losses, the closure of established businesses, the demolition of affordable housing.

These are just some of the effects forecast when the final phase of Millennium Way goes ahead next year.

Although the ‘new road’ has been championed as a means to increase the town’s economic prosperity, one long-established Lurgan businessman fears it could do the opposite.

Wilson Briggs is in the ‘firing line’ when the work to finish Millennium Way starts in earnest next summer.

The Lurgan businessman, whose father set up nationally renowned Alwood Kitchens, owns much of the land at Malcolm Road where the road will traverse. As well as his own, there are 10 businesses on Briggs’ land and 54 people employed there.

His sons and daughter, also own five houses on Malcolm Road which will be demolished if the road goes ahead.

Wilson said: “We’ve been working along with it so far. We’ve known we’ve been under threat since Millennium Way was first talked about in 1952.

“The original plan had been to continue the road along Russell Drive. That’s why we built our houses at the angle they are because at the time we were told the road would be coming this way.”

The Briggs’ readily admit the exterior of their premises are not in the best state and this is due to the fact that the promise of the new road has been hanging over them for several decades.

Alfie added: “Because of the nature of the project we’ve been left in limbo. Do we improve the premises or do we wait until the road is finished? We’ve been waiting for years now which has led to the premises falling short of our standards.

“Only recently have we been able to fix up the five houses. Ironically they’ve now come along and said they’re ready to finish the road and the houses will have to go. Some of the tenants have been told they need to have vacated their houses by May of next year.”

Alwood is the oldest kitchen company in Ireland and along with its sister company Red they have more design awards than any other kitchen company in the UK. The company moved to Lurgan in 1942 and has been on the same site since 1944.

Wilson commented: “We are not opposing the road, but we have concerns about the implications. If we are not properly compensated our businesses are in jeopardy.

“The plan would be to move Red Kitchens to another site, but this depends on the compensation we get.

“I had land vested from me previously and bought it back recently at a considerable loss.

“As far as the business people who rent our premises, they will also face an uphill battle to find another site as cheap as this one.

“Part of the reason the rent is so cheap is because we haven’t been able to justify many improvements.”