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Michelin site in Ballymena 'could become home to new manufacturing firm'

By John Mulgrew ·

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An aerial view of the Michelin factory in Ballymena

The public has had a chance to have its say on the future of tyre giant Michelin's huge Co Antrim site. Michelin is shutting its Ballymena factory after nearly 50 years with the loss of 860 jobs.

Commercial property firm CBRE held a consultation day at the Braid Centre in the town to highlight the facility's scale and size, including its possible uses.

The complex includes large workshop areas, many with high ceilings, which "could be suitable for a range of manufacturing activities", according to CBRE.

There are 10 loading bays across the factory, with car parking with space for around 600 vehicles.

"The offices and restroom facilities have all been refurbished within the last three years to a high standard," CBRE said.

"There is potential for development, subject to planning approval."

Michelin announced two years ago it was leaving Ballymena due to a fall in demand for its truck tyres and the growth of competition from Chinese imports.

A spokeswoman had said there would be a phased shutdown with full closure in place by the middle of next year.

"Michelin wants to help create a positive legacy for the Ballymena site, which is why CBRE is running this consultation event on our behalf," the Michelin spokeswoman said.

"It is an opportunity for the community to tell CBRE what they would like to see happen to the site and we believe that is an important part of the transition."

Michelin's announcement in 2015 was the second setback for the town's economy after the closure was announced a year earlier of the JTI Gallaher cigarette factory, where 800 people were employed.

Gallaher's former facility on the Galgorm Road has been bought over for expansion by Wrightbus, the town's bus builder.

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An aerial view of the Michelin factory in Ballymena