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A24 Ballynahinch Bypass


Construction scheme (future)
Construction of a new route taking through traffic on the A24 Belfast to Newcastle route out of the town centre.
Total Length
3.1km (1.9 miles)

2002 - Regional Transport plan commits to construction by 2015.

June 2005 - Government announces funding to begin statutory processes.

Dec 2005 - Consultants appointed for route selection.

Mar 2006 - route included in Sub-Regional Transport Plan

2007 - preliminary route published

12 Nov 2009 - preferred route announced

14-15 Apr 2015 - Public exhibition of preferred option, with comments accepted from 25 Mar to 19 May 2015.
26-27 Jan 2016 - Public inquiry took place
13 Dec 2016 - Departmental Statement published [decision to proceed]
Jun 2023 - Scheme was to go out to tender (as of Oct 2022, changed from Dec 2021 as of May 2021)
Aug 2023 - Scheme "paused"

35-40m (as of Jun 2018)
revised from
35m as of Dec 2016; 40m-50m as of Jan 2012; 36.4m as of Feb 2009, 12.1m as of Oct 2007, and 10.8m as of 2005
See Also

General area map.

Official web site on scheme - TransportNI

Ards/Down Area Plan 2015 home page

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

Vehicles travelling from the Belfast metropolitan area to the popular resorts around Newcastle must negotiate Ballynahinch town centre with a series of chronically congested junctions. This not only frustrates drivers who are part of the through traffic, but increases tension and danger for those living, shopping and working in the town. The proposed bypass will run round the eastern periphery of the town with one intermediate grade-separated junction at Crossgar Road. Housing is being permitted up to the line of the road, but no further. The scheme has been proposed since the 1960s.

Route and Standard

The map below shows the approximate route as proposed in March 2015, including an indication of the layout at the Crossgar Road grade-separated junction. Click here for a more detailed map of the proposals (link correct Jan 2016).

The bypass will start north of the town at a new roundabout on the A21 / A24 junction where a Park-and-Share site may also be constructed. For the first 660 metres there will be two lanes southbound and one lane northbound. After this it reverts to one lane each way. The road will pass under Moss Road without connecting to it. There will then be a grade-separated junction with the B7 Crossgar Road. The final 515m of the road will feature two lanes northbound (to allow overtaking) and one lane southbound. The bypass will terminate on a new roundabout at the junction of the existing A24 with the B2 Downpatrick Road.


17 Apr 2024: A Horrific road death that occurred in Ballynahinch town centre a week ago has prompted an online petition to appeal for the proposed Ballynahinch Bypass to be built. The official position is that this scheme is "paused", as of 2023, due to the significant financial pressure on DFI's capital expenditure. You can see the petition here.

18 Aug 2023: DFI Roads this week released a document showing how the current roads programme will be prioritised in the current economic and legislative climate, where DFI is now required to de-carbonise transport. Of the three bypasses in the previous list (Cookstown, Ballynahinch, Enniskillen) only Cookstown and Enniskillen made the cut, while the Ballynahinch Bypass is now "paused". The reason for this is likely that both Cookstown and Enniskillen stand to get funding through the Mid South West Region Growth Deal, whereas Ballynahinch does not have any source of funding. The scheme must now await the publication of a new suite of regional transport plans currently in development. Whether the Bypass happens will depend on whether it is included in these future plans, and of course on availability of funding. The scheme is shovel-ready, having passed its public inquiry in 2016, but was already looking shaky earlier this year (see previous update below) when it got no funding allocation for 2023-25. It is important to note that this announcement does not mean that the scheme won't happen, but it does put a question mark on it and puts it on the long finger for the time being.

4 Jan 2023: This brief update is simply to say that in the absence of a functioning Executive, and with a draft budget that does not provide any funding for this scheme before 2025 anyway, I think it is fair to regard this scheme as being "on hold" until at least 2025. Therefore I don't expect much more to happen in the next couple of years. The only things that might change this would be if the Executive was restored in the interim (may or may not happen), or if a budget was set from Westminster which somehow funded this scheme (unlikely in the current climate).

27 Oct 2022: In a report to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council this week DFI provided an update on this scheme. Surprise, surprise nothing much has happened to progress the scheme since May 2021, mainly because there is no funding to build it. The only thing that is going on is a study into "active travel" measures that could be implemented within the town centre on the bypass is complete. The Investment Strategy for NI web site, which rarely gives meaningful information these days, has put the release of the construction tender back from December 2021 to June 2023. This too, however, is unlikely to happen as there is no functioning Executive and even the draft budget doesn't envisage any funding being available before 2025. The report to the council simply says "progression to construction will depend on budget allocations made to the Department in future years", which is literally all that they can say at this point. So unfortunately I would not expect to see work beginning on this road in the next 2-3 years. Sorry that this update is so gloomy!

5 May 2021: The DFI Minister announced in mid-April that she was making the Direction Order for the Ballynahinch Bypass, as she had indicated in November (see previous update below). This is the document that effectively gives DFI permission to build a new trunk road. This does not mean that work will begin. Two things are still needed - firstly, there needs to be an allocation of funding from the Executive, which has not yet been made available, and secondly DFI needs to "make" the Vesting Order, which is the legal document that transfers ownership of the land required to DFI. There is still no indication of when funding might come available, but the Investment Strategy for NI (ISNI) web site is now listing this scheme as to go out to tender by December 2021, a delay of nine months from the dates it gave in November 2020. If this timescale sticks (which it may not if there's no money) construction would begin in December 2022 and end in September 2024. However, the ISNI seems to repeatedly kicking the timescale can down the road, which suggests that nobody really knows.

29 Nov 2020: In a question for Written Answer the DFI Minister said that this scheme "is now at an advanced stage of development and preparatory work on contract documentation has been completed". She went on to say "I have asked officials to complete the work necessary to allow me to make the Direction Order. This includes a review of the environmental reports which is nearing completion and, subject to the outcome of the review, I hope to be in position to make the Direction Order for the scheme in the new year." The Direction Order is the legal document that permits the DFI to construct a new trunk road. The scheme has already passed its public inquiry and DFI already formally decided to proceed to construction back in 2016, so all that's needed now is funding from the Executive. The Investment Strategy for NI web site is listing this scheme as to go out to tender by March 2021, which is a slight slip from the position a year ago, but not much. DFI therefore appear to be quite confident that funding will be forthcoming. The scheme had a particular fan in the previous DFI Minister, Chris Hazzard, so there does seem to be cross-party support for it. In conclusion, the Ballynahinch Bypass does genuinely seem to be edging closer to actual construction, and I'd expect to see a tender process get underway during 2021 and, in a fair wind, construction begin sometime in 2022.

12 Jun 2020: Nine months ago (below) I reported that this scheme seemed a good candidate to be progressed once Stormont was up and running. The DFI Minister announced her budget for the next year, which allocated money to the Executive's flagship projects (A5, A6 and Belfast Transport Hub) but did not give any funding for any other capital road schemes, including the Ballynahinch Bypass. However she followed this up today with a press release clarifying that she had approved funding for the continuation of planning of several planned road schemes, including the Ballynahinch Bypass. So I would read this as the Minister saying that she does not have the funds to construct the Bypass in the near future, but that she does regard it as one of the schemes she hopes to progress once the "flagship" projects have been progressed further. This confirms the view that I expressed in the January update below.

7 Jan 2020: It has been eighteen months since the last update. In that update (below) I said that the ISNI web site was suggesting the scheme would go out to tender by September 2019, but cautioned that this was probably not a reliable date. This has proven correct, with nothing happening in the interim. The ISNI web site is now stating that the tender process will commence by December 2020 with construction taking place between December 2021 and December 2023, ie 24 months (as opposed to 21 months). As I said in 2018 I believe that this scheme - along with the Enniskillen Bypass - is regarded as a high priority within DFI and, if Stormont is restored, it may well be one of the next of the "non-flagship" schemes to get the go-ahead. For now, note these dates but don't quit the day job.

23 Jun 2018: This scheme is more or less shovel ready, having successfully gone through all its statutory processes. All it needs now is the final legal orders to be made, a tendering process - and then a big pot of cash. On this latter point, the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland Pipeline contains an entry suggesting that this scheme is to go out to tender by September 2019 with a total project cost of 35-40m. The information goes on to suggest a contractor would be appointed by March 2020 with construction taking place between June 2020 and March 2022, ie 21 months. This sounds exciting, though it's worth commenting that without a functioning Executive it's hard to put much certainty in this sort of thing. What we CAN deduce is that this scheme is regarded as a high priority once the current flagship projects are underway (A5, A6, York Street). The only other non-flagship schemes that seem to be operating to this timescale are the A4 Enniskillen Bypass and the A1 Junctions Phase 2 project.

22 Mar 2018: Somehow or other, work continues to progress on planning for this scheme despite the lack of a Minister. Geotechnical work took place in late 2017, and at the start of March a contract for archaeological survey work along the route of the road began (as spotted by this infrastructure fan). The scheme found a champion in the previous DFI Minister, Chris Hazzard, and is in an advanced state with the public inquiry passed and the Departmental Statement published. That means it could begin with just a few months notice if funding were to become available (which seems unlikely in the next 2-3 years).

30 Nov 2017: The October report to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council indicates that "A programme of geotechnical investigation works on lands along the length of the scheme has recently been completed". This means things like boreholes to find out much more precisely what the ground beneath the road is like, and is necessary when moving into the final design ahead of construction. At this point in time the scheme has no funding allocation, and is unlikely to get one for at least three years since all DFI's new road budget is going into upgrading the A5 and A6. So I don't think it's likely that we'll see work begin on this road before 2020 at the earliest.

1 Jan 2017: This scheme had its public Inquiry in January 2016, and the Inspector submitted his report in March. The DFI has been examining this and on 13 December 2016 the Minister made a statement where he announced that the scheme had passed the Inquiry and would proceed to the next stage, namely the creation of the necessary legal orders. The Inspector's report and the DFI's response to it (the "Departmental Statement") can be viewed on the DFI web site. Having read the Inspector's report, it's clear that there are very few changes to the design as a result of the inquiry, so it will be proceeding more or less as planned. The Minister has also given the cost of the scheme as 35m, which is considerably cheaper than the estimate of 40-50m five years ago, in January 2012. If that is accurate, then it is very good news indeed. As always, the big unknown is money. Currently no funding has been allocated to the Ballynahinch Bypass so that means that the scheme will now go onto the waiting list until such times as it does get funding. There is no clear indication when that might be, though I do get the impression that the Minister is at least sympathetic to this scheme.

23 Oct 2016: The new Minister, who has been in office since May, has made it clear that his priorities are the A5 and A6. However, while he has been circumspect about what other roads he wants to progress, he has specifically mentioned two bypasses by name - Enniskillen and Ballynahinch (eg at the bottom of this press release). This suggests that the Minister is sympathetic to this scheme which bodes well for those who wish to see it built. The fact that the Minister himself is from Ballynahinch (Drumaness, to be exact) means he will have first hand knowledge of the problems that through-traffic causes for this town.

30 May 2016: Hot bank holiday weekends serve, at the very least, to remind the general population of the great need there is for a bypass of Ballynahinch, which was gridlocked by through-traffic over the past few days. This Department for Infrastructure report (DFI, which has now replaced the Department for Regional Development) notes that the Inspector's Report into the Public Inquiry that sat in January has now been received by the DFI [March]. Normal procedure is the Inspector's Report is not published until the DFI have had time to digest its findings, and after a number of months (or years, in the case of the A6!) they release both the Inspector's Report and their response, the Departmental Statement, simultaneously. No timescale has been given, so I would expect to hear nothing more for some months. It is also worth noting that the scheme currently does not have a funding allocation. This means that, even when design work is completed, it will not proceed to construction until such times as the Executive gives it funding.

24 Feb 2016: In the Assembly on Monday the DRD Minister said that the Public Inquiry lasted two days - 26 and 27 January. She confirmed what I said below, that the Inspector will probably submit his report within a few months. She also commented that the earliest possible start date is "early 2018". While probably just about doable on that timescale if everything was progressed at full speed, I think it is highly unlikely to take place within that timeframe given the other projects around the province that are competing for funding in the coming years. Since the Inspector's Report is not made public until after the DRD has spent several more months considering its content, I would not expect to hear much more about the Ballynahinch Bypass until the autumn at the earliest.

31 Jan 2016: The Public Inquiry into this scheme took place this week, beginning on Tuesday 26 January. I don't know whether the Inspector saw all the evidence on one day or whether it had to sit on one or more additional days. The evidence that the DRD presented (basically, their case for building the bypass) is now online here. The next stage is for the Inspector to present their report to the DRD, a process that normally takes a few months. The report is not made public at this point. After that, the DRD works on its reaction to the report and will then release their official response, called the "Departmental Statement", along with the Public Inquiry Report. This normally occurs a minimum of about nine months after the Inquiry, but it can sometimes take several years if the DRD is not ready to say more straightaway. In December 2015 some money was allocated to road schemes for the next five years. Nothing was allocated to this scheme. However, that does not rule out the scheme progressing in that timeframe, since this allocation did not necessarily consist of ALL the money that will be available for roads during the next five years, but merely money that has been definitely allocated. In December 2013 I said that in a "best case" scenario work could get underway in 2018. This is still technically true, but strikes me as unlikely now because priorties for the next couple of years seem to lie elsewhere (A5 and A6).

9 Nov 2015: The (new) DRD Minister announced last week that the Public Inquiry into this scheme will be held in late January, beginning on Tuesday 26 January at the Millbrook Lodge Hotel, 5 Drumaness Road, Ballynahinch. The press release notes that 36 responses (23 objections, 5 supportive, 8 neutral) were received to the proposals which were put out for consultation in April (see previous update). Coinciding with the announcement of the public inquiry, the DRD has also published further documents including the draft Vesting Order (detailing the land they intend to buy to build the road) and the Departmental Statement (which formally sets out what they want to build  and explains why they think it would be a good investment). The Public Inquiry is another necessary hurdle for a scheme like this, but even if the road passes the inquiry (and almost all do) construction will not begin until the Executive gives the scheme specific funding. So we still can't say much more on possible timescales, except that I anticipated in the December 2013 update below that in a best-case scenario, work could get underway in 2018.

25 Mar 2015: The DRD Minister has launched another public consultation into this scheme. The scheme has advanced to the point where a "final" design is now ready, and this will be displayed to the public at a public exhibition in the Market House, Ballynahinch on Tuesday 14 April from 12.30pm to 9pm and Wednesday 15 April from 10am to 9pm. Technically what has been published are drafts of the Direction Order (a short document that gives the DRD permission to build a new trunk road), the Environmental Statement (an enormous document that details almost everything about the scheme and its impact) and the Vesting Order (that gives the DRD the right to buy the necessary land). All this documentation is available online, but if you want the "bottom line", this is a link to a summary which includes a map at the end. We have known for some time that the DRD had decided to place a junction where the Bypass meets the B7 Crossgar Road (see update below for 25 Jan 2012), but it now looks as if we are going to be treated to that rare beast, a grade-separated junction on a two lane road. A grade-separated junction is one where traffic on the main road does not have to stop, and the side road passes above or below it via a bridge (example). Sliproads then take vehicles down onto the main road. They are ubiquitous on motorways, common on dual-carriageways but rare on roads with only one lane each way. The more usual approach is either a roundabout or a standard T-junction, but the DRD must have decided that neither is appropriate - the former slows traffic down, and the latter involves right-turns. So that is one element of this scheme that is quite interesting. The maps suggest that what will happen is that there will be a short stretch of central barrier through the junction (presumably to stop people turning right as a shortcut) but with one lane each way. Click here to see a map of the proposed Crossgar Road junction (link correct Mar 2015). The public can make comments up until 19th May, after which the Minister may decide to convene a public inquiry. One note of caution - there is currently no budget to build this bypass, and no specific commitment to provide the funding either, so at this point the scheme is still only a proposal.

8 Dec 2013: According to a Question for Written Answer to the DRD Minister on 8 November (question ref AQW 27458/11-15), the DRD Minister minister expects to "publish draft statutory orders in 2014/15". These are the legal documents that DRD need to make in order to get permission to build a new trunk road and do things like buy the required land. They're called "draft" because they are then usually subjected to a public inquiry. The Minister's comment means that the scheme could have its public inquiry in 2015. Once/if the scheme passes the public inquiry then the actual versions of the legal documents get created. This is what the DRD Minister means when he goes on to say "...with a view to making those orders in 2016/17". This means that, allowing perhaps six months for the inquiry inspector to present their report, and perhaps a year for the DRD to study it and respond to any recommendations, the scheme could be ready for construction in late 2016 or 2017. This doesn't mean that construction would actually begin at that time, as the scheme must then join the list of schemes that are competing for funding from the Executive, and this final hurdle will depend entirely on the priorities in the Executive at that time. So in a best-case scenario, where the scheme immediately gets funding and goes through a procurement process (normally about 9 months) construction could begin in 2018.

28 May 2012: A site visitor (who prefers to remain anonymous) has taken a panorama of the route of the new road. The panorama is taken from approximately here, and shows around 180 looking generally west. He has marked the approximate route of the road in blue. Click here to see the image. Many thanks for this. There is no other news on this scheme.

25 Jan 2012: According to an announcement by the Minister during a debate in the Assembly yesterday, Roads Service approved the Stage 2 preferred options report for this scheme. This means that they have now decided on a finalised route and junction strategy - it doesn't mean than anything will happen on the ground any time soon. As yet no material on the subject has appeared on the DRD web site, so we are limited to reading the Minister's statement. The route is 3.1km (1.9 miles) long, and from the description appears to be more or less the same as the preferred route option announced in November 2009. The only significant change from the 2009 route is that there now WILL be an intermediate junction, at B7 Crossgar Road. The previous plan had been for a bridge over or under the B7 at this location, so this may mean either (a) a short stretch of link road to link between the two, or (b) replacing the bridge with a roundabout. This change was requested during the public consultation. Normally Roads Service resist adding intermediate junctions on new strategic routes as it tends to attract local traffic that should be on the local road network, but in this case Roads Service appear to have acquiesced on the grounds that its provision would actually transfer a substantial number (670) additional vehicles per day to the Bypass (which is predicted to carry 6,500 per day when opened). These vehicles would otherwise continue into the town centre, hence the provision of the junction would improve congestion in the town. The Minister concluded by stating that the estimated cost has risen, this time to 40m-50m. This compares to the estimate of 36m three years ago. The new junction at Crossgar Road is the only significant change since then, but it's hard to see how this could add as much as 4m-14m to the total cost, so other factors must also be at play. The debate in Stormont highlighted the local demand for this road, but the timescale is unchanged. The official position is still that construction will take place between 2014 and 2019.

6 Mar 2010: The preferred route was announced at a public exhibition held in the town on 12 November 2009. The exhibition must have been carried out in stealth, as no press releases were carried on the DRD web site, and the material has not appeared online since then! Anyhow, it shows the preferred route to be 3km long, around 2/3 of which will be built to 2+1 standard (one lane one way and two in the other) and the rest with one lane each way. There will be no intermediate junctions, which is very sensible for a road whose whole point is to be a "bypass". Skipping intermediate junctions will allow it to remain a bypass and not be used by local traffic that really ought to remain on the local road network. There is no further information on timescale.

18 Oct 2009: According to this press release Roads Service plan to announce the preferred route for this scheme "within the next few weeks". This follows the release of route options during 2007. The scheme is currently timetabled for construction in 5-10 years time.

12 April 2009: In the minutes of the Roads Service board meeting on 26 February 2009, there is the following comment: "sought amendments to the original proposal for Ballynahinch Bypass and noted the consequent reduction in estimated cost from 46.7 million to 36.3 million. On that basis the Board gave Gateway 0 approval to the Eastern Corridor Route Option A and granted permission to proceed to Gateway 1." Both these values are considerably more than the value last publicised (12.1m in October 2007). It's unclear from this statement what exactly the current design is, or what "Eastern Corridor Route Option A" might refer to. But at the very least it suggests that the project is still being actively pursued.

2 February 2009: According to a press release issued in early December 2008, progress on the scheme is awaiting the outcome of the public inquiry into the Ards/Down Area Plan 2015. The inquiry was held between May 2005 and January 2007, and the Planning department is now considering a report by the Planning Appeals Commission, a process that is not yet complete. According to the Regional Development Minister, "It is the intention to propose the Ballynahinch Bypass scheme to preliminary public consultation as soon as practicably possible once the outcome of the public inquiry into Ards/ Down Area Plan 2015 is known. Meanwhile Roads Service is carrying out essential development to ensure it proceeds through statutory procedures." See the links at the top of this page for a link to the latest information on the Ards/Down Area Plan. In November 2008 Roads Service released a leaflet about the scheme that revealed that the road might be built to 2+1 standard with a northbound overtaking lane, although this is not yet certain.

June 2005: In June 2005 the central UK government announced 2m of funding for the scheme and in December 2005 a press release revealed that consultants had been appointed to select a route.