Ballyclare Western Relief Road

 

Status
Construction scheme (current)
Contractor
Duo Operations Ltd, Augher (www.duoplc.com)
Where
To construct a road link from the A57 Templepatrick Road to the west of Ballyclare to the B94 Rashee Road north of Ballyclare via the B95 Doagh Road.
Total Length
3.2 km / 2.0 miles
Dates

Road has been proposed since 1980s

Included in draft Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan - 2004

27 August 2009 - KPL announce plans to proceed

Planning permission granted - 11 Jan 2011
Scheme on hold (as of Mar 2012)

KPL Group placed into administration - Feb 2014
Neptune Group acquire land and indicate a desire to proceed with the road - Nov 2015

(Previously due to commence Feb 2012 as of Dec 2011; "after Mar 2011" as of Aug 2010; August 2010 as of May 2010)

Roundabout at A57 and 100 metres of relief road completed - mid 2018

Planning permission for southern section of relief road granted - November 2019
Construction on section around Doagh Road began - spring 2020

Planning permission for northern section of relief road granted - 27 April 2021
Work on Phase 1 Doagh Road to Templepatrick Road stretch due to take place from Jan to Nov 2021

Roundabout on Doagh Road completed - Aug 2021
Work on Phase 2 Doagh Road to Rashee Road begain - Sep 2021
Whole road to be completed by the end of 2022 (as of Oct 2021)

Cost
11m - funded by private developer (as of 2021) of which 4.5m for the Doagh Road to Templepatrick Road stretch.
See Also

Coverage of Aug 2009 announcement - Ballyclare Gazette

Click here to jump straight down to updates for this scheme.

Current area plans have marked Ballyclare as a town for significant growth to accommodate some of Northern Ireland's fast-growing population. However the town is severely limited by the fact that the only way to get from the north of the town to the south, and hence to Belfast, is via the congested main street. This proposal will not necessarily diminish the traffic on the main street, but it should allow continued housing development in the town without increasing congestion at that location. It will see a new two-lane road link running round the north west of the town connecting the A57 Templepatrick Road to the west of Ballyclare to the B94 Rashee Road north of Ballyclare via the B95 Doagh Road. This will include a second bridge over the Six Mile Water. The approximate route is shown below (scroll further down for an alternative map).

Aerial view of Ballyclare

The proposal has been on the cards for at least 20 years, and was most recently included in the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan 2015 (first published 2004). Construction of the road was always planned to be carried out by private developers, but it was not until August 2009 that a developer - KPL Group - secured sufficient land to announce its construction which the Ballyclare Gazette described as "the largest and most expensive privately funded road proposal ever brought forward in Northern Ireland". The road is needed in order to begin work on a major housing development which will take up to 20 years to complete and include around 2000 homes when completed. A pair of planning applications for the road have already been submitted, with part 1 being the short section from Templepatrick Road to Doagh Road, and part 2 being the longer section from there to Rashee Road. It is still not certain whether the entire road will be constructed at once, or just part 1 initially.

Route

The route is a single-carriageway made up as follows:

  • A new roundabout on the A57 Templepatrick Road at the existing Ballyrobert Road junction (completed 2018).
  • Approximately 1km of road going north-west to a new roundabout on the B95 Doagh Road, adjacent to the cemetery. This stretch will include a bridge over the Six Mile Water (completed 2021).
  • Approximately 2km of road running in an S-shape to a new roundabout at Rashee Road just south of the existing Cogry Road junction.

Note that this route differs slightly from that proposed in the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan in that the northern section runs further out from the town than envisaged in that document.

The map below shows the route of most of the scheme, the stretch from Doagh Road to Rashee Road. The southernmost section of the scheme (Templepatrick Road to Doagh Road) is not shown.

Updates

29 Nov 2021: It has now been confirmed that work started on Phase 2 of the road (Doagh Road to Rashee Road) in September 2021 and that it is anticipated to be completed by autumn 2022. Meanwhile, the bridge over the Six Mile Water is close to completion and is still expected to open before Christmas. Fellow road enthusiast Fred Fisher spotted that the parapet railings were in place on the bridge on 3 November. Finally, I recently found a video of the beam lift for the bridge, taken in September.

18 Oct 2021: Phase 1 of this road, the A57 Templepatrick Road to Doagh Road stretch, is progressing very well. The new roundabout on the Doagh Road opened to traffic during August. The bridge is largely completed and work on completing the road itself between the two roundabouts is well advanced. Work was due to be completed by the end of November, and with current progress looking good it seems likely to me that it will be in use before Christmas. Meanwhile, the media recently reported that Neptune Group - the developer building the road - has said it will complete the entire relief road by the end of 2022 at a total cost of 11m. To complete it in that timescale (14 months from now) would require work to begin pretty soon, but planning permission was granted in April 2021 so there are no obstacles to that happening. A very interesting time for Ballyclare.

22 Aug 2021: Work on the A57 Templepatrick Road to Doagh Road stretch of the scheme has been underway now for eight months progress is becoming evident. In the Google Earth picture below, taken in the spring, you can already see the road base and work underway on the abutments for the new bridge over the Six Mile Water. Much has happened since this picture was taken, and the bridge beams seem to now be in place and the deck was poured in early August. This stretch of the road is due to be completed by November so we could well see it open by Christmas. Of course, work still has to be carried out on the rest of the road. As is often the case with developer-funded roads, this one looks as if it will be built in at least four phases, so completion is still some way off. With thanks to Fred Fisher for information and photo for this update.


Google Earth shot of the southern part of the new road, dated 24 April 2021. North is to the top left. It shows the main A57 on the right with the existing roundabout. You can then see the road base being formed, and in particular, the work on the foundations of the abutments for the new bridge over the Six Mile Water. [Google Earth]


View looking north west towards the new bridge, on 10 August 2021. The tall machine is a concrete pumping machine which is doing a "deck pour" to form the deck of the new bridge atop the bridge beams. [Fred Fisher]

5 May 2021: A brief update to say that planning permission for the remainder of the scheme (everything north of Doagh Road) was granted on 27 April 2021. At the minute work is underway on the southern stretch of the road (Doagh Road to the A57 Templepatrick Road) Google Earth have recently uploaded imagery of the area from February 2021. This shows that, at that point, earthworks were evident at the site of the future bridge over the Six Mile Water, and hardcore had been laid at the Doagh Road end of the road.

4 Apr 2021: With work now progressing on phase 1 of the scheme (Templepatrick Road to Doagh Road), some more information has now appeared on the planning portal showing the route of the remainder of the scheme (Doagh Road to Rashee Road). I have included a copy of this map above for reference. This part of the scheme has yet to begin. In the previous update (below) I expressed hope that the northern part would be built in a single phase, but alas this does not seem to be the case. In fact, it now appears that it will be built in four phases starting at the Doagh Road and working north. These four phases are coloured purple, yellow, orange and blue in the map above. However, it should be noted that a through-route will be available after the orange phase is completed, via Readers Park. It is likely that progression of the phases will be related to the speed of construction of the new houses, so it's not possible at this point to put a timescale on its completion, which could well be a number of years away. The map is quite detailed (search the planning portal for application LA03/2020/0881/RM if you want to see it) and allows us to get an idea of what it will be like to use. I show a small section below in more detail.


Close-up of the design of part of the Ballyclare Western Relief Road showing that it will consist of one lane in each direction separated by continuous central hatching that will be used to allow right-turn pockets into housing developments and central islands to assist pedestrians. Note that the road will have no direct frontage, with houses that face the road instead having their own service road running parallel to it. Dedicated bus lay-bys are also provided for and it is intended to be tree-lined for much of its length.

22 Dec 2020: The Newtownabbey Times reported on 11 December that the DFI Minister has decided to approve planning permission for the northern section of the Ballyclare Relief Road (Doagh Road to Rashee Road). I am not certain how this translates into actual planning applications, but I do note that a planning application referring to this section of the road seems to have been submitted five days later on 16 December (LA03/2020/0881/RM), but as yet there are no associated documents to look at. The original plan, about 15 years ago, was to build the entire road in one go. The developer seems to have been pushing to build the road in at least two phases, which seems to be borne out by the work that's underway on phase 1 (Templepatrick Road to Doagh Road). Hopefully the northern half will be built in a single phase, and that it doesn't become another unending saga like the as-yet-uncompleted Larne West Distributor South!

29 Nov 2020: Work on the scheme paused due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but is now set to resume on 4 January 2021. Work on the next phase will focus on construction of a new roundabout on Doagh Road and construction of drainage and the stretch of road from there to the existing roundabout on the A57 Templepatrick Road. This may include the new bridge over the Six Mile Water. This part of the scheme is due to be completed by November 2021.

11 Sep 2020: To date work that has taken place on the scheme has included the earthworks plus a retaining wall in the Six Mile Water, presumably for the bridge. Work was paused due to the Covid-19 pandemic but is due to get underway again at some point in the next few months. The next phase of work will include the construction of the roundabout on Doagh Road plus drainage works. With thanks to the contractor, Duo Operations Ltd, for info on the current situation. So it looks likely to me that the first element of the Western Relief Road to be completed will be the stretch from the A57 to Doagh Road, which will be extremely useful as it will bypass the main street of the town.

12 Jun 2020: At long last more work is taking place on this long-anticipated scheme. The roundabout at the very southern end of the scheme, along with 100 metres of the relief road, were completed in mid 2018 to service the "Ollar Valley" development. However, Neptune Group was granted full planning permission for the southern section remainder of the relief road in November 2019 (it must be a modified plan as permission was granted in 2011) and work now seems to be underway on the central section, around Doagh Road. Vegetation clearance work seems to have been carried out in early 2019 ahead of this work. An aerial view recently shared on Facebook suggests that this, too, is intended to serve a new housing development and doesn't seem to be the provision of the whole relief road. The plans do show a roundabout here, so the works that are underway will likely lead to the construction of that, plus a stretch of the relief road on either side. It could be some years before the whole relief road is built, as developers tend only to build parts of roads as they are needed. The photos below were shared by Alan Robinson. Thanks also to Jay Burbank for the heads-up that this work was underway.


The completed roundabout on the A57 (which runs bottom left to top right) as of 2020. It was completed in mid 2018 along with the first 100 metres of the relief road to serve the Ollar Valley development. [Google Earth]


View north-east along Doagh Road (towards Ballyclare) on 5 June 2020 showing a site yard in place and heavy plant on site. This is to the the site of a new roundabout which will carry the relief road from left to right across Doagh Road here. [Alan Robinson]

Earthworks underway on the future Ballyclare Relief Road near Doagh Road on 5 June 2020 [Alan Robinson].

Telephoto shot taken from Doagh Road, Ballyclare looking south-east towards the existing roundabout on the A57. The new road will eventually run from the roundabout shown to the Doagh Road, though this will require a new bridge over the Six Mile Water and it does not look as if the full link will be completed in this phase of the works. [Alan Robinson]

23 Oct 2016: The Infrastructure Minister was asked about this scheme in the Assembly on 19 September. The Neptune Group acquired the housing development in question in November 2015 and indicated that they would start work on the site early in 2017. The provision of the Ballyclare Western Relief Road is required for the development, but presumably will not all be provided at once. In fact, it could take up to 15 years, the time it is estimated it will take to built all the houses involved. The Minister said "There are a number of locations throughout the North where local councils stand in a prime position to play a leading role, following the devolution of various powers to them in recent years, such as their capacity for financial borrowing, to give one example. Certainly, either on their own or in conjunction with the Department, and with local developers, there is the potential to look at this." This suggests Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council could yet have a role in this scheme. The developer does need to pay for the road, but perhaps the council could provide a loan on favourable terms to allow it to be built at an earlier date.

6 Apr 2016: It's been almost four years since this page was last updated, because the economic slowdown caused the Ballyclare West housing project, of which this road is a component, to be put on the long finger in 2012. KPL Group, the developer behind it, then went into administration in February 2014 shortly after the land had been sold off. In November 2015 the land was acquired by Neptune Group who said in a statement on their web site that "we plan to start work on the site [which is primarily a housing development] early next year. We intend to liaise closely with the local community and elected representatives in order that the new proposed link road can be constructed in a timely fashion". The scheme got a brief mention in a Written Answer in the Assembly about six weeks ago (question AQO 9691/11-16). The DRD Minister noted that the DRD will "assist this development where possible", which is all they can really do since the scheme is "developer led". A developer led project is one that exists primarily to service a private development and must therefore be paid for by the private developer, albeit built to the required standard to become DRD property when finished. All of this does give us some hope that we might see work on the road resume over the next few years, but we'll have to wait and see what Neptune Group decide to do.

20 May 2012: It seems that the decline in the housing market has now hit this scheme. According to the Newtownabbey Today, the scheme is now on hold for an unknown length of time due to lack of money. The developer, KPL Group, said that the scheme is "facing a slight delay due to a reduction in capital provisions" although they point out that they have already invested a considerable sum in preparatory works, and hence are still committed to it. It seems as if the scheme will have to wait until the housing market picks up again. It is not known how long the delay will be, but it may be some time, hence I have moved this scheme back down the priority list.

25 Feb 2012: I was past the site today and took a photo looking along the route of the first phase of this road (see below). It suggests that at least some preparatory work has now taken place. Firstly, there is a distinct mark in the grass of the field that coincides with the line of the road. This suggests that either some vegetation clearance has taken place, or that the line of the road has been marked out in some other way. Secondly, it looks as if some trees have been removed close to where the road will cross the Six Mile Water (foreground of pic). I may be clutching at straws a bit here, but since work is due to begin around now this could be a sign that something is finally moving.

Ballyclare West

Looking north west from the A57 Templepatrick Road
/Ballyrobert Road junction, along the line of the new road (see map above for guidance). Note the light coloured area on the side of the hill, and the apparent tree removal to the right of centre. Taken on 25 Feb 2012. [Wesley Johnston]

12 Dec 2011: According to Newtownabbey Today, work on the first phase of this road is now due to start in February 2012. We had previously expected work to begin during the past year, but there has been no evidence of work and no explanation. According to the article, the reason for the delay was "environmental regulations when several [12] badger setts were discovered along the proposed two-mile route". Hopefully we will see work begin within this timescale.

5 Jun 2011: Work has still not begun on the road. However I was at the site of the associated housing development last week and one of the people working on the site said that they thought the work on the road would be beginning "in July". This is not official information, so could be completely wrong, but as it's all we have I am sharing it anyway! The property company has now set up a web site which devotes a page to the road (but with no maps) which it calls the "Westlands Link Road", although the final say on the road name lies with Newtownabbey Borough Council.

14 Jan 2011: After much delay, planning permission for this proposed road and associated housing development has finally been granted. It is not clear when construction on the road will begin, except to note that (i) KPL seem keen to proceed (ii) work on the road will begin prior to the bulk of the housing development. As it is being progressed by a private developer there are unlikely to be any announcements when work does begin.

18 Sep 2010: Work had been due to get underway on the new road in August 2010, but this did not happen. According to the Newtownabbey Today, the delay is due to the fact that the Planning Appeals Commission have delayed the publication of their report into the inquiry into the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan 2015 (BMAP) until at least March 2011. As this road scheme is part of the BMAP, it is likely to be affected by this delay. The developer (KPL) has not commented, so their position is unknown.

June 2010: According to Newtownabbey Today, work on the houses associated with this development began in May, on land off Rashee Road. However, work on the road did not begin in April 2010 as was anticipated back in August last year. It has now emerged that approval for the road cannot be given until the finalised Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan 2015 (BMAP) has been published. This is presumably because provision of the link road is included in the BMAP and is hence part of the plan. The BMAP *may* be published later in 2010, but no firm date has been given. The developer (KPL Group) is saying that work may begin on the road in "August 2010", but with the dependency on BMAP this seems very optimistic. The article has also confirmed that the road will be built in two stages. The 1km section from Templepatrick Road to Doagh Road will be built first, with the extension to Rashee Road following later, possibly a year or more later.

Photos

The view west along Doagh Road, Ballyclare. The new road will cross this road
a few hundred metres ahead. Taken in 2003. [Wesley Johnston]

Looking south, towards Ballyclare, along Rashee Road from the Cogry Road junction. The new road will terminate near where the car is parked. Taken in 2003. [Wesley Johnston]

Artist's impression of how the new road and associated housing development
will look. Picture obtained from the Irish Construction site. [KPL Group]