Proposed Greenway: Comber to Newtownards

Project Overview

In partnership with the Department for Infrastructure (DfI), we are proposing to extend the existing Comber Greenway from Belfast Road, Comber to the end of the canal parallel to Portaferry Road Newtownards.

The proposed route would extend the Comber Greenway into Comber town centre by following the Enler and Comber Rivers on approach to Strangford Lough.

The route would continue along the eastern side of the existing A21 Newtownards Road before joining up with the path on top of the flood protection bank along the shore of Strangford Lough.  The preferred route is proposed to run parallel with the carriageway between Comber and Ballyrickard Waste Water Treatment Works.

The path would continue on the floodwall past Newtownards Airfield to the Floodgates at the Portaferry Road in Newtownards, around Londonderry Park and along the canal path.

The proposed extension will be approximately 10km long. 

Project Value

The development of this route represents an investment of c£4.36M in green infrastructure in the Borough. 

Key Benefits

  • Increased leisure use offering connections to Comber Leisure Centre, Enler Park, Londonderry Park and the Strangford Lough Cycle Trail. 
  • Increased commuter use by those travelling for work or to one of the number of schools on the route. 
  • Promotion of active travel between Comber and Newtownards for walkers and cyclists. 
  • Extension of the already well used Comber Greenway and, in particular, improvement of the access route into Comber town centre.   
  • Potential to contribute to domestic tourism as the route runs partly along the shoreline of Strangford Lough and can link to Island Hill.
  • Additional car parking with one Park and Ride facility to be built by DfI in Comber and one to be built by Council near the Waste Water Treatment Plant on the A21.   

For other general benefits of greenways click this link BENEFITS.

Current Status

In July 2021, Council approved the detailed ‘Outline Business Case’ for the route and it has been submitted to the Department for Infrastructure to help support its planning for capital funding for greenways across Northern Ireland.  

The major planning application for this scheme was submitted to the Planning Service in March 2019.  Determination of the planning application is anticipated before the end of 2021.  The project team are addressing queries from statutory consultees.

To view the application click on this link: Comber to Newtownards Greenway Planning Application

Approval of a local planning application for 1.26km of the route at Londonderry Park was provided by the Planning Service in September 2021.  To see the details of this application, click on this link: Proposed Greenway Link via Portaferry Road and Londonderry Park.

It is hoped to start work on the ground in early 2022 between Tide Bank and New Street, Newtownards.

Background

The Department for Infrastructure (DfI)'s Strategic Plan for Greenways’ Exercise – Explore – Enjoy’, published in 2016, 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. 

The plan provided a framework to assist local councils to develop their own greenway schemes and provided funding for feasibility studies, one of which was the proposed extension of the Comber Greenway to Newtownards. 

The study initially undertook a route analysis examining opportunities for extending the existing Comber Greenway into Comber and then beyond to Newtownards. The total length of the route is approximately 10km and it is a primary route on the DfI Strategic Plan for a Greenway Network. 

Funding provided under Stage 3 of the DfI Small Grants Programme for Greenways allowed the Council to develop detailed designs and fully worked up project proposals in preparation for future construction. 

In accordance with legislative requirements, Council commissioned a Pre-Application Community Consultation Report (PACC) to ensure that communities were made aware of, and had an opportunity to comment on, development proposals before the planning application was submitted. 

A comprehensive PACC strategy was developed for the proposed greenway, which was proportionate to its scale and complexity and a public consultation event and supplementary consultation, and publicity methods undertaken over a 12-week period, starting in March 2018.

The PACC Report was submitted with a planning application for the Comber to Newtownards Greenway, and the application submitted in March 2019.  Planning ref: LA06/2019/0308/F.  To view the application click on this link: Comber to Newtownards Greenway Planning Application

A local planning application for 1.26km of the route at Londonderry Park was submitted to the Planning Service in April 2019 and approved in September 2021.  To see the details of this application, click on this link: Proposed Greenway Link via Portaferry Road and Londonderry Park.