£3.9m Doagh to Larne greenway plans submitted to Department for Infrastructure

Proposals for the development of a new ‘greenway’ in East Antrim have taken a step forward with plans being submitted to the Department for Infrastructure by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council for consideration.

The proposed £3.9m ‘greenway’, a walking and cycling route, from Doagh to Larne, straddles two local authority areas.

The Department has requested details of any ‘greenway’ and small scale ‘Active Travel’ projects on council-owned land that are ready to “take forward to construction in-year”.

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A report presented to Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors at a recent meeting behind closed doors says that two landowners have already been approached and indicated “a willingness to be involved by gifting land” to the council for the project.  Land for the proposed section between Avondale Drive to Henryville is already owned by the borough council.

The project would also include the replacement of the pedestrian bridge between the Ballyclare’s Sixmile Leisure Centre and War Memorial Park.

Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors heard that there are small sections of land in Ballyclare which would both form part of the larger greenway project if it was to be developed and which would also provide useful walking routes for local residents connecting them to the Sixmilewater Park.

Previously, the council received correspondence from the Ulster Farmers’ Union indicating opposition by members living and working in Antrim and Newtownabbey to any project which could “lead to loss of viable farmland”.

The UFU has also raised concerns over restrictions, governance, access, trespass and liability issues.

A planned extension of Newtownabbey Way to link with Global Point will also be submitted to the Department.

This path would be a direct route from Mossley West Train Station as part of an ‘Active Travel’ initiative which could come  complete with bicycle provision. If approved, it would be fully funded by the Department.

The council also proposes to develop a further section in V36/Valley Park and Glas na Braden Glen in Newtownabbey.

Glengormley Integrated Primary School, Edmund Rice College and Belfast High School have asked the council to submit applications on their behalf to the Department to enhance cycling to school provision as part of the ‘Active Travel’ initiative.

In Antrim, the creation of a path from Stiles Way to Steeple Road would connect Stiles Way through to schools in the town.

In June, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said that she was ready to make further funding allocations available to councils that are in a position to start construction in 2021/22.

“I am committed to creating more active travel opportunities and developing sustainable infrastructure projects like this one which will help deliver cleaner, greener, sustainable active travel infrastructure across our island,” the Minister said.

by Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter