Knockmore Link Road, Lisburn

 

Status
Construction scheme (proposed)
Where
To build a road connecting the M1 at junction 8 to the A3 Moira Road / A520 Knockmore Road, Lisburn
Total Length
1.6 km / 1.0 miles
Dates

Proposed in Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan - Nov 2004
Pre-applicaiton notice submitted by Neptune Carleton - Sep 2017

No work carried out as of Oct 2017.

Cost
Unknown - will be mostly funded by private developers.
Photos
See below
See Also
General area map - Google Maps
Official BMAP web page on proposal

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

Lisburn became a city in 2002, and continues to see rapid growth not only as a residential region of the Belfast Metropolitan Area, but also as an employment centre in its own right. In west Lisburn, Knockmore Road and Prince William Road were opened in 1978 to allow the growth of this part of the city, and it is now largely developed. The 2004 "Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan 2015" (BMAP) allocated a large area of land (about a square kilometre) south of A3 Moira Road and north of the M1 for industry and commerce. This area is currently rural, traversed by the Blaris Road.

The BMAP has included provision of a link between the M1 and Knockmore Road, which must be provided by private developers wishing to develop this land. The proposal is designated "LC 17/01". The required junction on the M1 itself was built in 2003 by the developers of the Sprucefield area. This map shows the proposed route of the rest of Knockmore Link in red (or see the official map here):


The proposed road would begin beside the Sprucefield park-and-ride at junction 8, and travel across the relatively flat land of the Lagan Valley to the existing Moira Road / Knockmore Road junction. This would be of enormous benefit to the city, as it would mean the bulk of traffic heading to the west of the city would no longer have to go via the city centre along Hillsborough Road as it does at present. The road would require the construction of a new bridge over the River Lagan, which would be a substantial structure. The only road it would meet would be Blaris Road - see pictures below.

The new road would likely be built to two-lane single-carriageway standard, with an A-classification. It would likely take the number of either the A520 Knockmore Road, which would be its continuation to the north, or the A101 Sprucefield Link Road, which would be its continuation to the south.

Updates

24 Oct 2017: A private developer, Neptune Carleton, has submitted a "pre-application notice" for the development of approximately 1300 homes at Blaris, including construction of the Knockmore Link (see news report). A public consultation took place in Lisburn in late September, though unfortunately the material doesn't seem to have been made available online. A "pre-application notice" means that a planning application hasn't yet been submitted, but that it is big enough that the developer needs to be talking to the authorities in good time to make sure they get things as right as possible before beginning. Assuming permission is granted (highly likely since it's in the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan) it is likely that provision of the road would be made a condition of planning approval. It would be a substantial road, one mile long, and would require a fairly substantial bridge over the River Lagan at the north end. A road like this could cost in the region of £5m, so it would be a significant capital outlay for the developer. Nevertheless, as it could take a decade or more for all 1300 homes to be completed, an important point is when during this period the provision of the link road is required. In other similar cases around Northern Ireland where provision of link roads have been conditions of planning, roads have sat partially built for literally years and years so hopefully in this case the planners will appreciate this risk and will insist on the completion of the link road fairly early on in the development of the site. One would not want a situation where the northern part of the road is built early on to provide access to the site, but the link to the M1 taking place ten years down the line when the site is almost fully developed.

23 Oct 2016: The Minister was asked about this scheme via a Written Answer (AQW 2008/16-21) and gave an answer back in July. He said "The Council is aware that the limited capital funding available to my Department is directed towards the maintenance and improvement of the Strategic Road Network and that it is highly unlikely that any financial contribution towards this scheme could be justified at this time. Currently when compared against demand for other major road schemes it would not be a high priority." So this suggests that, unless Lisburn and Castlereagh Council can find some way to partly or fully fund the scheme, it is not going to happen. There has been no further word on the previous Minister's comment that she had asked her officials to see whether it could be regarded as a "strategic" road, which is not surprising because it was a highly dubious suggestion since this road doesn't fulfil any of the basic criteria of strategic roads - which are roads whose primary purpose is connecting together different regions of Northern Ireland.

31 May 2016: Every year the weeks leading up to Balmoral Show usually bring about fresh discussion of this scheme and this year has been no exception. The official position is unchanged, namely that the road will only be provided by private developers as a condition of planning for developments in west Lisburn. However, in recent months the new Lisburn and Castlereagh Council has been lobbying hard for the scheme to be built at taxpayers’ expense (but with an option to recoup the money later from developers) due to the benefits it would bring to traffic by connecting west Lisburn and the Maze site directly to the M1 at Blaris. In a Council Facebook post, one Councillor is quoted as saying “Our independent economic forecasts suggest that within four years the Blaris, Knockmore and Maze Long Kesh plan zonings will create or sustain upwards of 4,000 jobs involving 101 acres of development land. Therefore this new road is critical to economic progress.

In a Written Answer in the Assembly on 23 February (AQO 9693/11-16), the then-DRD Minister confirmed that she had met with Council members to discuss the scheme and subsequently agreed to “undertake a preliminary assessment of the traffic impacts of the Knockmore Link, the results of which should be available in March 2016” and added that “it is envisaged that the results should provide objective evidence for further discussion between TransportNI and Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council officers”. Although the official position has not changed, this does suggest that TransportNI is at the very least willing to discuss the matter. Then, in the Assembly in March, the DRD Minister said that "the [financing] proposal that was put to the Department at that time was a partnership model, which would include all three partners [TransportNI, Strategic Investment Board and Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council]". This seems quite plausible. She then added the comment "Hence I asked my officials to conduct a survey to see whether or not it could be regarded as a strategic road." Such a redefinition is presumably being suggested because would allow access to more funding sources, since TransportNI policy is to limit their upgrades to strategic roads. However it seems dubious to me that Knockmore Link could be considered a strategic road. Strategic roads are those which link together large population centres, and Lisburn already has connections to the both the A1 and M1, which are the nearest strategic roads. Knockmore Link is clearly a local distributor for the west Lisburn area rather than a strategic road.

29 May 2015: During a Ministerial question time in Stormont on 19 May, the DRD Minister was asked about this scheme, of which nothing has happened in the two years since the last update (see below). The scheme periodically gets media attention around the time of Balmoral Show as it would greatly assist traffic getting from the M1 and A1 to the Maze site. However, the Minister's reply was that the DRD was quite insistent that public funds would not be used to build the road, and that it could only be provided by private developers who wanted to develop land served by it (which could, of course, include the developer of the Maze site). He said "the Department is clear that this project should be developer-led". When pressed on whether this assessment could be reviewed, the Minister responded that "there are other strategic road issues in the area [perhaps a reference to the A1/M1 Sprucefield Bypass proposal] that, with collaboration and cooperation, could be explored to the benefit of the whole area. I am certainly open to that discussion to see whether opportunities can be brought forward." This sounds nice, but doesn't really mean anything, so I would be fairly confident that the current view that the road must be funded by developers will remain, and that it is unlikely to be built in the near future.

23 Jun 2013: The Balmoral Show, which took place at the Maze site a few weeks ago, has refocused public attention on this scheme, which seems to becoming inextricably linked with more general transport arrangements for the site. Other proposals include a new junction on the M1 west of here. In a Question for Written Answer two weeks ago, the Minister was asked about the various road proposals in the area. All he would say is that "I am aware MLKDC [Maze/Long Kesh Development Corporation] has a development plan setting out proposals for road links to the M1 motorway. However, to date the MLKDC has not made a planning application." The southern half of the Knockmore Link in particular (M1 junction 8 to Blaris Road) would be a very cheap, but highly beneficial, addition to Maze access so the chances of it being implemented at some point seem quite good.

11 Mar 2013: There has been no further word on any part of this road being provided. However, there was an adjournment debate in the Assembly last week about road access to the Maze site, which touched on this road proposal. An adjournment debate does not make any decisions - it is simply an opportunity for MLAs to discuss an issue of concern. Sometimes a Minister is in attendance to give the "official" line at the end of the debate. In this case, a Junior Minister in the OFMDFM department was in attendance. He said "The Maze/Long Kesh Development Corporation was established in September 2012 to regenerate the site, and it is now responsible for its regeneration, including the provision of road infrastructure.  Although the regeneration plans are at a very early stage, linking the site to the M1 is identified as a high priority for the corporation, as it has the potential to attract further private sector investment to the site.  However, as Members will be aware, road infrastructure is a complex process involving extensive stakeholder engagement, business case approval, design, planning permission, procurement and construction, among many other things." This suggests that, since my last update in 2011, we at least now have a framework in place through which this road could be fully or partly built. He then went on to say "OFMDFM allocated £21 million in the current CSR period for a feasibility study, which is being undertaken to consider the road infrastructure options. The Maze/Long Kesh Development Corporation is developing a transport plan, which will include the use of rail and other transport options, such as a cycle network." The publication of this 'transport plan' is likely to indicate what, if any, parts of Knockmore Link might be provided or indeed if there are other proposals.

18 Dec 2011: According to one of these Written Answers from Stormont last week, it is possible that part of the road may be provided soon. It says that "a small section of the Knockmore Link road is required by the Maze regeneration site to help facilitate its development." It does not explain what this means. Since the only other road the Knockmore Link would meet is Blaris Road, this may mean providing a new link to Blaris Road, since Blaris Road continues west to the Maze regeneration site. If so, the "small section" mentioned would be either (a) the stretch from M1 j8 to Blaris Road, or (b) the stretch from Knockmore Road to Blaris Road. Either way, it would be another piece in the jigsaw of this scheme - although the first of these would probably be of more benefit to the public at large. The Written Answer goes on to clarify that "these options [for road access to the Maze site] will be subject to scheme development and planning approval and the promoter of the site will be expected to provide the road infrastructure", ie confirming that Roads Service will not be paying for it.

Photos


At the south end of the scheme, this is the entrance to the Park-and-Ride at M1 junction 8. It looks as if the entrance to the facility has been designed to eventually become the start of Knockmore Link Road.

Looking east along Blaris Road, Lisburn, from near the point where the proposed Knockmore Link Road would cross it left to right. Taken April 2006. [Wesley Johnston]

Looking south from Blaris Road, Lisburn, at the point where the proposed Knockmore Link Road would cross it. Looking along the route of the proposed road towards M1 junction 8. Taken April 2006. [Wesley Johnston]

Looking north from Blaris Road, Lisburn, at the point where the proposed Knockmore Link Road would cross it. Looking along the route of the proposed road towards west Lisburn. Taken April 2006. [Wesley Johnston]

Looking south from the existing Knockmore Road, Lisburn, where it meets the A3 Moira Road (left to right ahead). The new road would terminate here, turning it into a cross-roads. Taken Feb 2007. [Wesley Johnston]