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. Greenways have a good surface and will be well maintained so people don’t need to dress up in special clothes to use them.  City suits and school uniforms are all fine.

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

The North Down Coastal Path is already a very popular route. This proposal will significantly increase traffic (walkers and cyclists) on the path. How can this increased traffic 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 (3m wide). This will reflect the success of other greenways such as the Comber Greenway and the Connswater Community Greenway.

Council and its partners have considered the introduction of speed limits for cyclist and restrictions on the time they can use the path, however there are enforcement challenges with this and therefore we are proposing the introduction of the One Path Initiative along this greenway. The key point is that the path should be able to be shared by all users. 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.

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

The public have commented on how the current path in places is 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 every user has the same opportunity to enjoy this coastal route.

The North Down Coastal Path is unlike other greenways. The terrain and topography are not capable of being safe for multiple different users. Its meandering nature is part of the historical value of the path, which dates back to pre-Victorian era.

We appreciate that the proposed enhancements to the North Down Coastal Path appear to some people as being very significant and arguably unnecessary on a 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 path to 4m at identified pinch points such as Helen’s Bay Beach, Crawfordsburn Beach and at Seapark, Holywood
  • A 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.

The improvements to the North Down Coastal Path eg tarmaced surfaces, removal of twisting paths are all to the benefit of high speed and commuter cyclists. The proposals are therefore dangerous and will lead to conflict between users.

The improvements to the path are designed to be of benefit to a wide range of users – walkers, cyclists, people will buggies, wheelchairs, 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 or many will continue to follow the public roads which gives them 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 and its partners have considered the introduction of speed limits for cyclists and restrictions on the time they can use the path, however there are enforcement challenges with this and therefore we are proposing the introduction of the One Path Initiative along this greenway. The key point is that the path should be able to be shared by all users. 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.

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

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, and land purchase costs etc which would render such an option unfeasible when the North Down Coastal Path already exists and is already used by both cyclists and pedestrians. There are many examples of successful greenways across NI, ROI, England, Scotland, Wales and Europe where a shared path is used.

Have issues of coastal erosion and sea defences been considered?

Yes, and we are confident that the proposals 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 an Environmental Statement was required to be submitted 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 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.

The proposals will have an adverse impact on the appearance and natural amenity and beauty of the area. Increasing the width of the path will only encroach on the green areas which are the most 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 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.

As stated under the previous question, 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 impacts and minimise costs.

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

The Portal housing the plans is difficult to navigate. Consequently, public awareness of the proposals must be lower than if these were available to all in a manner which enabled people to fully understand the implications of 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. (Link to overview: coming soon)

The proposals are exactly what is going to happen, and aspects of the project can’t be changed. No genuine consultation.

This isn’t the case. Our greenway proposals have already been changed as a result of public feedback and we continue 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 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 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.

The more the coastal path is broadened and marketed as a path on which cycling is encouraged the more likely it is that it will attract larger numbers of serious cyclists.

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, wheelchairs, etc.

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

The proposed bridge at The Long Hole and Seacliff Road and the cantilevered boardwalk along Seacliff Road will destroy the area, ruin the views and have a negative effect 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 seaside 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 propose amendments or mitigations measures etc as appropriate.

There is 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 Donaghadeee?

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 Infrastructures specifications and stipulations so as not to have any adverse impact on road safety and convenience. Additional cycle parking will be provided.

Concerned about 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 proposed to upgrade this car park and that people will use this as a starting point to access the greenway.

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 lands under the control of the Department for Infrastructure.