FAQs Greenways

Thank you for your interest in our proposed greenway network.  FAQs about the proposals are below. 

Frequently asked questions

What are greenways?

Greenways are traffic-free routes connecting communities to all kinds of destinations for commuting, everyday journeys or leisure and recreation.

They are designed to be suitable for people who are walking, riding bikes, using wheelchairs or taking kids out in pushchairs.

They are generally located within linear corridors that are either natural, such as rivers and streams, or man-made, such as abandoned railroad beds and utility corridors or existing path networks.

How many greenways exist locally?

Ards and North Down is home to the first greenway created in Northern Ireland – the Comber Greenway, which connects the town of Comber to the centre of Belfast.

There are many other greenway routes in Northern Ireland including the Belfast to Lisburn Greenway, Connswater Greenway, Newtownabbey Greenway and Newry Canal Greenway. You can find out more about these and other popular routes by clicking on the following website link: Northern Ireland Greenways.

In 2016 the Department for Infrastructure produced Exercise, Explore, Enjoy – A Strategic Plan for Greenways in Northern Ireland. This plan aims to encourage a substantial increase in the number of people walking and cycling as a regular part of everyday life through the building of a connected and accessible regional Greenway Network.

Other greenways under construction or partially developed locally include:

  • Glens of Antrim Greenway
  • Lisburn to Lurgan Greenway
  • Newry to Dundalk Greenway
  • Derry Urban Greenways
Why are greenways so popular?

Greenways provide free recreational opportunities for all ages, encourage healthier lifestyles, bolster local economic development, reduce car trips and carbon footprints, provide additional transportation options, and encourage better environmental stewardship! There are lots of benefits to having one on your doorstep! Read more about the BENEFITS here.

What greenways are proposed in Ards and North Down?

With support from the Department for Infrastructure, the Council is currently progressing the following greenway routes locally. Each proposal is at a different stage. Please click on the links below to see the details for each route.

Proposed Greenway: Comber to Newtownards (connecting with the existing Comber Greenway)

Proposed Greenway: Newtownards to Green Road (via Whitespots/ Clandeboye)

Proposed Greenway: Kinnegar to Donaghadee (via the North Down Coastal Path)

Proposed Greenway: Green Road to Donaghadee (yet to be designed)

How did the Council decide on these routes? Has there been public consultation?

In 2016 the Department for Infrastructure produced Exercise, Explore, Enjoy – A Strategic Plan for Greenways in Northern Ireland. The proposed greenway routes currently under development in Ards and North Down (Comber to Newtownards; Newtownards to Green Road; and Kinnegar to Donaghadee) were determined in the context of this plan.

Each of the proposed routes requires planning permission. In line with legislative requirements, Council commissioned a Pre-(Planning) Application Community Consultation Report. This has helped ensure that communities were made aware of, and had an opportunity to comment on, development proposals before the planning application was submitted.

To compile this report a 12-week consultation was undertaken for each route. Information was shared online, in local newspapers and at consultation events.

As a result of feedback, changes were made to two of the proposed routes.

Planning applications are currently with the Planning Service for each of the three greenways. Interested parties can comment on their application on the planning portal.

Please click on the links below to access the relevant application:

A) Kinnegar to Donaghadee Greenway Planning Application

B) Newtownards to Green Road, Bangor: 2 planning applications as below

C) Comber to Newtownards Greenway Planning Application

Is there a genuine opportunity for local people/groups to influence the proposals?

Yes, and in fact this has already happened.

The original proposals for Ards and North Down included a feasibility study for a greenway route from Orlock Point to Donaghadee, Newtownards and Helen’s Bay Greenway. 

As a result of feedback during public consultation and meetings with both residents and landowners, the original network was altered at different locations mainly along the A21 in Comber and between Newtownards and Helen’s Bay and on the A21 between Bangor and Orlock Point.

In relation to the formal planning application process, the Council’s Statement of Community Involvement sets out how the public can get involved across all elements of the Planning system. In relation to dealing with major planning applications such as the greenways, it sets out the requirement for the applicant to undertake Pre-Application Community Consultation prior to submission of the proposal.

It can be viewed here:

Statement of Community Involvement

In respect of when the planning application is submitted it sets out the requirements for advertising in the local press and neighbour notification. Individuals, groups and organisations can comment on a planning application even if they have not been neighbour notified by the Council. In respect of the public commenting on a planning proposal, when a planning officer assesses an application, only certain issues are taken into account; these are often referred to as ‘material planning considerations’. Material considerations must be genuine planning considerations.

The basic question is not whether owners and occupiers of neighbouring properties would experience financial or other loss from a particular development, but whether the proposal would unacceptably affect amenities and the existing use of land and buildings that ought to be protected in the public interest. Generally greater weight is attached to issues which are supported by evidence rather than solely by assertion.

The planning application is also scrutinised by the statutory consultees, and they may also ask for amendments to the scheme to fit with their requirements and legislation and to ensure that all aspects of the proposed development are acceptable in terms of impacts etc.

The development and promotion of these paths will naturally attract more visitors to the area. What will the Council do to help manage this in relation to car parking/ litter and other environmental concerns?

The Council will maintain the greenways with support from other agencies as appropriate.

In relation to dog fouling and littering, there are byelaws in place in respect of these that the Council can use to help manage issues as they arise. We also intend to introduce additional voluntary measures and to work to encourage respectful and responsible use by everyone utilising such outdoor spaces (read more about the One Path Initiative).

In respect of car parking, the Council recognises that some areas on all the proposed routes are already popular and therefore can be very busy at certain times of the week/ year. By extending the routes, they will all offer additional access points, which should help to reduce parking pressure in other areas.

What is the One Path initiative and how will this help with traffic management on the paths?

The One Path Initiative is an effective approach developed, piloted and delivered by Sustrans to tackle conflict on paths and promote positive actions and behaviour by all users.

The One Path Initiative’s core objective is to improve communication and understanding between the people who use the path. It achieves this goal by:

  • Understanding who uses the path and their individual needs.
  • Improving relations amongst the users.
  • Reducing conflict and thereby complaints.
  • Avoiding physical interventions and/or permanent signage and the resulting expense.
  • Ensuring all the agencies involved in the management of the path deliver a consistent message.

Find our more here One Path Initiative.

What is the timescale for work 'on the ground'?

Whilst the Greenway construction lends itself to a phased approach, it is too early within the overall process to define when or how the Greenway may be phased. It will depend on any number of factors including obtaining planning permission; minimising disruption to the general public whilst minimising closure during the improvements works; funding partners criteria and value for money through competitive contractor tendering, seasonal restrictions relating to ecological sensitivities etc.

As a more detailed programme emerges, Council will share this with stakeholders including the wider public.

Have there been any direct surveys carried out of existing path users, or are there any plans to do this as part of the ongoing consultation?

The surveys of existing path users were not done as a standalone exercise, but users would have been included in the following groups that were consulted.

Views were sought from a wider range of users as listed below:

  • Pre-Application Notification (PAN) Consultations were carried out twice and path users were invited to participate.
  • There were 2 public meetings.
  • Approximately 20,000 leaflets were distributed by a professional leafleting company one week before the public consultation took place. The areas covered by the leaflet drop included parts of Holywood, Marino, Cultra, Seahill, Helens Bay, Carnalea, Bangor Marina, Groomsport and Donaghadee.
  • Consultations with residents’ groups and community associations were carried out which included obtaining views from older residents.
  • The Council also engaged with RNIYC, Bangor West Conservation Group, The Groomsport Community Association, The Donaghadee Community Association and Holywood and Cultra Conservation Group.
  • There was also public advertising in the local press, via Council’s social media channels and posters on the path of the public consultation events at the time. There were also online surveys that were advertised through the Council’s social media channels.
  • Disability groups were consulted specifically, with future consultations arranged through our equality officer.
  • Elected Members have also fed back views comments and concerns including specific views from those with mobility issues.
  • IMTAC (The Inclusive Mobility and Transport Advisory Committee) was consulted. This is a committee of disabled people and older people which also includes key transport professionals.

The current planning process remains open for comments which people are aware of due to the public advert for the application and neighbour notification letters and details are also on the Council website. The Environmental Statement will be advertised, and comments invited as part of that stage of the consultation process.