Connsbank Link & Holywood Arches Bypass, Belfast


Construction scheme (cancelled)
To create a new route skirting round the northern side of the Holywood Arches area of east Belfast, and a link road connecting it directly to the Sydenham Bypass.
Total Length
1.0km / 0.6 miles

Proposed in Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan 2004

Implementation looking unlikely in near future (as of Sep 2011)
Road protection corridor missing from adopted Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan - Sep 2014
Scheme presumably cancelled on this basis

None as yet - please contact me if you have any to contribute.
See Also

General area map

New junction on A2 Sydenham Bypass - on this site (would be the terminus of Connsbank Link)

Map of land reserved for the scheme - see p28 of this 6MB PDF file.

These two schemes are closely related to each other, and also to the proposed new junction on the A2 Sydenham Bypass close to here. The whole plan is to:

  1. Create a new grade-separated junction on the Sydenham Bypass close to Victoria Park to replace the existing Dee Street traffic light junction (see link above). This scheme is to be entirely or largely paid for by the developers of Titanic Quarter. Therefore, the timetable for the remaining two elements (which this page is about) depends on the developers.
  2. Build a link road (Connsbank Link) connecting this new junction to Holywood Arches.
  3. Build a new road bypassing the Holywood Road/Newtownards Road junction to the north and hence to the Connsbank Link.

The Newtownards Road is a densely populated urban area, and this is worst between the point where the Albertbridge Road joins and where the Holywood Road diverges. The latter junction is known as Holywood Arches since a railway viaduct used to cross the junction here. The traffic in the area is made even worse by the presence of the largest shopping centre in east Belfast, Connswater, which is situated between the two junctions. Despite the close proximity of the A2, this area is relatively distant from any connections to the strategic road network. The closest connection west is Dee Street, about 1/2 km away, and which can only be accessed down residential streets. To the east, it is 2km before the Newtownards Road reaches the A55 Outer Ring.

This scheme will provide a much needed "safety valve" to the traffic pressures in the area by providing a trunk road directly onto the A2 Sydenham Bypass and a new road to bypass the Holywood Arches junction. The routes are explained below, but is is easier to understand by looking also at the map linked to above which is from the draft Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan (BMAP).

The Holywood Arches Bypass will depart from the north side of Newtownards Road at its junction with Albertbridge Road turning this junction into an oblique crossroads. It will then travel north east along what is currently Connswater Street, before turning east along the route of the Connswater River. The river will likely be moved to one side or else culverted. It will terminate on Parkgate Avenue. The map shows an extension south-east to Holywood Road and then to Newtownards Road via Grampian Avenue. However, the BMAP amendment of February 2006 says "the stretch of road proposed from the Connsbank Link/Parkgate Avenue to Holywood Road is deleted" implying that this is no longer planned.

The Connsbank Link will then join the Holywood Arches Bypass close to Parkgate Avenue and travel north along the route of the Connswater River and join the A2 Sydenham Bypass at a new grade-separated junction, likely to be a roundabout. The scheme will impact severly on the river, which will have to be moved or culverted, but also on King George V Playing Fields, about 1/4 of which will be taken up by the new junction and link road.


31 Oct 2014: In my previous update three years ago I noted that the DRD seemed to consider this scheme to be a low priority and I expressed doubt that it would ever happen. This now appears to have been correct - the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan 2015 has just been adopted, and the final version of the plan (published on 9 Sep 2014) completely omits this scheme. We can deduce from this mysterious absence that the land protection corridor has been abandoned, which can only mean that the DRD has decided to abandon this scheme. Therefore I have moved this scheme to my list of cancelled schemes. It has to be said that this decision will greatly help the local area as it will open up some long-empty land for development, and also reduce the impact on the Connswater river which would have been partially culverted to allow this scheme to happen.

8 Oct 2011: In the Questions for Written Answer in the Assembly in mid September, the future of this scheme was raised (question AQO 256/11-15). The scheme now appears to be much less certain than previously, and the Minister describes it as "a low priority for my Department". The Minister outlined several reasons for this:

  • "concerns regarding the potential impact of the Holywood Arches Bypass and Connsbank Link protection lines on potential regeneration opportunities in the area"
  • "It is now unlikely that the funding source originally envisaged for this scheme [to be provided by private developers seeking improved linkages to Titanic Quarter] remains in place"
  • "the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan (BMAP) Inquiry, which will review the need to retain protection lines for this future road scheme"
He notes that the BMAP is not due to report until at least the end of 2012, so the road protection corridors will remain in place at least until then. He concludes that "I will await the outcome of the Inquiry before considering the way forward." At this point in time, I would not place a bet on this pair of schemes happening.