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]

2018 - Construction could begin, in best-case scenario (as of Dec 2013).

35m (as of Dec 2016)
revised from
40m-50m as of Jan 2012; 36.4m as of Feb 2009, 12.1m as of Oct 2007, and 10.8m as of 2005
None as yet - please contact me if you have any to contribute!
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.


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.