FAQs - Kinnegar to Donaghadee route

We have received a significant number of queries specifically on the proposed Kinnegar to Donaghadee route.  FAQs in relation to these are detailed below.  

Please also take the time to read our general FAQs on Greenways via this link

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 can the increased traffic on the proposed North Down Coastal Path greenway be managed?

The objectives of the proposals are to enhance the Coastal Path and to make it accessible to all, providing a continuous path for multi-users, including both pedestrians and cyclists. We also want to ensure we have a path that is fit for purpose (minimum 3m wide).

In order to promote shared and respectful use between all user groups, the Council is proposing the introduction of the One Path Initiative along this greenway. The key point of this initiative is that the path should be able to be shared by all users. For example, cyclists should slow down to pass safely; dog walkers should keep dogs under control; everyone should be prepared to stop and give way to others as required and the ‘Share, Respect, Enjoy’ message will be promoted to encourage path users to practice mutual respect.

We appreciate that this approach won’t work on every occasion and the Council does have the opportunity to review the appropriate by-laws and their enforcement as appropriate.

The public has commented on how parts of the current path are shared and enjoyed safely by walkers and cyclists alike. It is the intention of this project that this is the experience along the full length of the path from Holywood to Donaghadee and that everyone has the same opportunity to enjoy this coastal route.

Will the redevelopment detract from the unique terrain and historical value of the existing path? Will the new path be safe for multiple users?

We appreciate that the proposed enhancements to the existing North Down Coastal Path appear to some people as being very significant and to some unnecessary on an already shared use path that already enjoys a lot of use from residents and visitors. A similar greenway is that of the Great Western Greenway in Co Mayo which follows a coastal route.

One of the purposes of the proposal is to make the path accessible to a wide range of users and as safe as possible everywhere – it isn’t, accessible in parts, at present. In terms of how the enhancements will be implemented, we can provide the assurance that they will be delivered to the same exacting standards as all other greenways.

Particular features have been included into the proposals to reflect the unique terrain such as:

  • Widening of the existing paths to 4m at identified pinch points such as Helen’s Bay Beach, Crawfordsburn Beach and at Seapark, Holywood
  • A 4m pedestrian / cycle bridge at Royal Belfast Golf Club
  • An elevated boardwalk at Grey Point Fort.

Sensitive enhancements to the path have already been successfully achieved.

Near Seahill there is a rocky inlet which, until recently, could only be traversed by two flights of steps and a high narrow path. This effectively cut the path in half for wheelchair users and anyone pushing a bicycle/buggy.

In recent years, with the assistance of grant aid, Council replaced the existing steep steps with sections of upgraded path and an elevated walkway. A new bridge walkway was also built and was designed to maintain the coastal ecosystem in its natural state.

It is proposed to deal with the narrowest and unsafe sections first. Overall, the necessary works to create the 3m greenway will be kept to a minimum order to reduce the level of intervention and to keep costs down.

Will the improvements to the North Down Coastal Path eg tarmacked surfaces, removal of twisting paths, etc. not be all to the benefit of high speed and commuter cyclists?

The improvements to the path are designed to be of benefit to a wide range of users – walkers, cyclists, people with buggies, people with sight impairment, wheelchair users, etc.

It is not envisaged that the path will be heavily used by commuters, and it will be promoted primarily as a leisure facility. Commuters generally will either tend to travel very early in the morning or late in the evenings and many confident cyclists will continue to follow the public roads which provide a faster route.

The scheme is designed to address the minority of cases where conflict between users is already happening and avoid such problems in the future.

Council is proposing the introduction of the One Path Initiative along this greenway. The key point of this initiative is that the path should be able to be shared by all users. for example, cyclists should slow down to pass safely; dog walkers should keep dogs under control; everyone should be prepared to stop and give way to others as required and the ‘Share, Respect, Enjoy’ message will be promoted to encourage path users to practice mutual respect.

We appreciate that this approach won’t work on every occasion and the Council does have the opportunity to review the appropriate by-laws and their enforcement as appropriate.

What is the width of the construction corridor required to accommodate a 3 metre widening of the path?

Paths that are widened to 3m will be tied into adjacent land by no more than 0.5m on each side, and this will be reinstated with grass or other seed mixes (specifics to be agreed with the statutory consultee - Natural Environment Division of Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs), or a kerb if it is adjacent to a slope. Therefore, the total width of the corridor of works will be approximately 4m, and not as has been reported on some social media channels - 12m or 13m.

Why is the red line on planning drawings so wide in places?

The red line in some locations is wider than the path to allow for deviations to the route of the path if deemed necessary or required by the statutory consultees. Whilst they may not request any change to the alignment of the path, the wider area within the red line allows for flexibility, if required, without the need to submit a new, separate planning application and incur additional cost. In general, the path width is denoted on the drawings by the grey shaded area.

​Why not leave the Coastal Path as is and build an inland path for cyclists?

The coastal path is identified as a proposed secondary route in the DfI Strategic document Exercise, Explore, Enjoy, A Strategic Plan for Greenways, which highlights the need for this type of development and the betterment of the existing asset to enable access for all.

The objectives of the proposals are to enhance the Coastal Path and to make it accessible to all, providing a continuous path for multi-users, including both pedestrians and cyclists. However, it is not envisaged that the path will be heavily used by commuters, and this is not a stated aim of the project.

The practicalities surrounding the development of an inland path include landownership agreements along such a route, availability of land and purchase costs etc which would render such an option unfeasible when the North Down Coastal Path already exists and is already being used by both cyclists and pedestrians. Creating a new inland path would also have a significant environmental impact. There are many examples of successful greenways across NI, ROI, England, Scotland, Wales and Europe where a pre-existing shared path is used.

Have issues of coastal erosion and sea defences been considered?

Yes, and we are assessing and ensuring that the proposal will not detrimentally impact our sea defences in any way.

Following an initial round of consultations with statutory consultees such as the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (Marine Division and the Natural Environment Division etc), it was determined that the submission of an Environmental Statement would be required as part of the planning process. This Environmental Statement will set out the proposal and the construction process etc and will contain surveys relating to all aspects of the environment and any proposed mitigation measures. Once it is compiled it will be submitted to the Planning Service who will then re-consult the statutory consultees to determine if the proposals and mitigation measures are acceptable or not. They may suggest changes to the proposals to alleviate any concerns they have. The planning application will only be determined when the statutory consultee process has been completed.

Has Climate Change and sea level rise been considered?

Climate change related flood modelling will be included as part of the Environmental Statement which will then be considered by the statutory consultees as part of the planning process.

Will this proposal have an adverse impact on the appearance and natural amenity and beauty of the area?

An Environmental Statement will be submitted covering all aspects of the proposed construction, mitigation measures, etc, and once it has been compiled it will then be considered by the statutory consultees. Any impacts to the natural environment will be minimalised as much as possible or mitigation measures proposed. The clearance works will be kept to a minimum, where they are required, in order to reduce the environmental impact and minimise costs.

The relevant statutory consultees will consider the appropriateness of the proposal on all the environmentally designated areas alongside relevant environmental legislation etc as part of the planning process. Any proposed structures will be sympathetic to the area, and in keeping with existing enhancements such as the bridge at Seahill.

Will the new width of the path encroach on the green areas which are an important characteristic of the walk?

Large sections of the existing path are already 3m and in some instances the verges have encroached across the existing surface and will be cleared back to create the necessary 3m width. In other sections, the path will be widened to 3m, which will make it accessible to all and accommodate the shared usage.

The Portal housing the plans is difficult to navigate making it hard for people to fully understand the implications of the plans. Is there a user-friendly way to see the plans?

For a scheme of this scale, numerous maps and plans are required to be prepared and submitted to the Planning Service for assessment.

Those plans are uploaded to the Northern Ireland Planning Portal system for interested parties to view.

During the pandemic, physical appointments at the Planning office have been suspended, therefore it has been difficult for people to view plans in person.

The Portal is managed by the Department for Infrastructure, not the Council, however, guidance is available on how to use it via this link: Planning Portal User Guidance.

In order to assist members of the public, the Planning Service requested that an overview map be developed and also published a note for interested parties to assist in understanding the different parts of the greenway. Download the map.

The proposals appear to have been dictated to the public and then “set in stone”. Was there a genuine consultation?

This isn’t the case. The greenway proposals have already been changed as a result of public feedback and Council continues to provide opportunities for people to engage with us.

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 (through part of Clandeboye Estate) 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 process. 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; the details of which 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 can be considered; 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 and forthcoming Environmental Statement will also be scrutinised by the statutory consultees, and they may 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.

Has the Council taken into consideration that the seawall is not high enough to constitute an appropriate barrier?

Appropriate barriers are planned to be installed in the appropriate locations – refer to drawing numbers 60571783-SHT-0-CT-LD-3003, 3004, 3005, 3006 on the Planning Portal showing railing details at all bridge crossing, elevated boardwalks and platforms. Railings are also shown on the cross section of plans such as 60571783-0-SHT-LA-2030 where rock armour exists directly adjacent to the path.

Social media is full of comments describing the coastal path proposal as a “cycling superhighway”. Is the Council promoting the redeveloped coastal path as a cyclist commuter route?

It is not envisaged that the path will be heavily used by commuters, and it will be promoted primarily as a leisure facility.

The Greenway will be promoted as a shared space. The improvements to the path are designed to be of benefit to a wide range of users – walkers, cyclists, people will buggies, wheelchair users, people with visual impairments and other limited mobility.

Moreover, Council is proposing the introduction of the One Path Initiative along this greenway. The key point of this initiative is that the path should be able to be shared by all users. for example, cyclists should slow down to pass safely; dog walkers should keep dogs under control; everyone should be prepared to stop and give way to others as required and the ‘Share, Respect, Enjoy’ message will be promoted to encourage path users to practice mutual respect.

We appreciate that this approach won’t work on every occasion and the Council does have the opportunity to review the appropriate by-laws and their enforcement as appropriate.

Why is Council proposing a bridge at The Long Hole and Seacliff Road? Will it not destroy the area, ruin the views and have a negative impact on wildlife?

The proposed bridge and cantilevered boardwalk are minimal interventions to provide the linkage from the Marina area around towards Ballyholme and beyond. In consultation with DfI Roads Service they stated that they did not want the removal of car parking spaces on Seacliff Road or the widening of the footpath, so the bridge and boardwalk were the most viable option. Access will be facilitated to the rocks, etc, where possible. The cantilevered boardwalk only runs from The Long Hole to the cottages on the seaward side of Seacliff Road (approx. 290m).

Again, these proposals are fully detailed in the planning application and will be covered in the Environmental Statement so statutory consultees can comment on any potential impacts on the environment as proposed amendments or mitigations measures etc as appropriate.

Has Council taken into consideration the insufficient existing parking provision for the greenway at Helen’s Bay?

There are a significant number of access points along the route of the greenway and where users cannot walk or cycle to the greenway, they will be encouraged to use public transport. It is not anticipated that significant amounts of vehicular traffic associated with the Greenway proposals will materialise.

How will the predicted usage by pedestrians/cyclists impact on the town centre of Donaghadee?

Predicted forecasts for users on the Greenway network is 440 per day by 2026. However, this is anticipated to be across the entire Greenway network within the Borough: it is unlikely that they will all be in the same place at the same time. The proposed Greenway in the town centre will be delivered in accordance with Department for Infrastructure’s specifications and stipulations so as not to have any adverse impact on road safety and convenience. Additional cycle parking will be provided.

What is the anticipated future usage of the Path, should be proposed plans proceed? 

Counters at locations along the route have been used to help inform usage forecasts. It is accepted that figures may have been artificially increased during 2020 when lockdown restrictions prevented users undertaking their other, usual, leisure pursuits.
The table below provides projected users volumes:

Stats about usae on proposed greenways Kinnegar to Donaghadee
Has Council taken into consideration the current infrastructure such as car parking and access in the Kinnegar area?

There is an informal car park currently at the Kinnegar end of the proposed greenway which is accessed from Airport Road West via a bridge, and it is envisaged that people will continue to use this. There is other car parking connected to the existing path, which is accessible from car parks in Holywood.

Will land be required from private householders?

It is not envisaged that land will be required from private homeowners as the greenway route can be accommodated on land under the control of the Department for Infrastructure and other departments.

There are concerns about extensive tree removal as part of the proposals, can you clarify how many trees will be removed?

At the current time, the Council has not identified any trees on any land that require to be felled as part of the Greenways project. The recent works to trees near Grey Point Fort have been carried out by DAERA as it is their land. Please contact them for any details on this matter.

How much of the path will remain unchanged?

• There will be 8.8km of new surfacing only, no path widening – (28%),

• There will be 9.8km of existing path no works planned of any description – (31%)

• There will 12.9km of the existing path widened - (41%)

• Therefore 59% of the existing path will have no change in width but some areas as described above will have some enhancements such as new benches and signage.

It should be noted that the section from Banks Lane Roundabout to Donaghadee will be a new path (as in footpath/cycle lane) alongside the road.

How will the NDCP be made suitable for wheelchair users given that some of it is quite steep?

Where possible gradients are proposed to be no steeper than 1:20 where the existing path is currently steeper and 1:20 deviations are being proposed as shown on the planning drawings such as along boardwalks and bridge sections etc. The existing path will remain in situ unaltered.

Some other greenways have a width of 4m why is the NDCP not being widened to 4m along all its length?

There are sections of the NDCP that are busier than others and where there are pinch points such as the beaches at Helen’s Bay, Seapark and Crawfordsburn. In these areas, it is proposed to widen the path to 4m if it isn’t already that width and any bridge will also be 4m in width. In the remaining interlinking sections, where the path is not as busy, the path will be widened to 3m if it isn’t already that width in order to reduce the environmental impact and overall cost whilst still enabling it to be a shared use path.

Will e-Bikes etc be permitted on the greenway?

This has yet to be determined. ANDBC is in the process of starting to review its bylaws and this issue will form part of the review with examples of other countries taken into account.

Will there be extra parking along the greenway?

There are a significant number of access points along the route of the greenway and where users cannot walk or cycle to the greenway, they will be encouraged to use public transport. It is not anticipated that significant amounts of vehicular traffic will be associated with the Greenway and will be spread out across the entire network.