M2 Service Area (Ballycraigy, near Mallusk)
"Templepatrick Motorway Service Area"

 

Status
Construction scheme (current)
Where
To construct two service areas on opposite carriageways of the M2 motorway at Brown's Road, near Ballycraigy, between j4 Sandyknowes and j5 Templepatrick.
Total Length
n/a
Dates

Aug 1999 - Plans originally submitted but not progressed to construction
May 2011 - Planning permission granted

Nov 2013 - Revised planning applications submitted

Mar 2014 - Planning permission granted
Apr 2014 - Work begins clearing the site of the northbound service area

c10 July 2014 - Work begins on sliproads for northbound service area

8 Apr 2015 - Northbound service area opened
2016 - Southbound service area due to open during the year (as of Sep 2015)

Cost

6.25m for northbound service area - private development by Petrogas Ltd
Total cost of the M1 and M2 service areas together is 25m.

Maps/Photos
See below
See Also

General area map - Google Maps

See also specific map below.

This plan will see a private company construct twin services areas on the M2 motorway between Newtownabbey and Templepatrick. They will include petrol and restaurant facilities accessed directly from the motorway, with no access to the local road network. As there will be no bridge over the M2, the two service areas will be independent, each duplicating the services of the other (although the westbound one is slightly larger as it is expected to be more popular). The chosen location makes sense as it is the first rural portion of the M2 out of Belfast, yet sited close enough to the city to attract traffic from both the A6 (Derry) and A26 (Coleraine) directions.

I don't normally list private developments on this site - it is included because it has such a high-profile impact on the M2 motorway.

The service areas is likely to be branded "Applegreen", similar to those the company owns in the Republic of Ireland. The developer estimates that the northbound service area will attract 2100 vehicles per day and vehicles the southbound one 1400 per day (according to the 2013 planning application). This makes these service areas a good bit smaller than the corresponding service areas being constructed on the M1 between Belfast and Lisburn.

The map below shows the proposed locations of the northbound (blue) and southbound (red) service areas. You can see the detailed site plans by clicking here (southbound) and here (northbound).


View M2 Service Areas, Ballycraigy in a larger map

Planning Permission Timeline

  • 7 Aug 1999 - Planning application submitted for northbound and southbound service areas
  • 4 May 2011 - Planning permission finally approved for both service areas after 12 years
  • 18 Nov 2013 - Revised planning applications submitted (for northbound and southbound service areas).
  • 14 Mar 2014 - Planning permission approved for northbound service area.
  • 31 Mar 2014 - Planning permission approved for southbound service area.

Progress

27 Dec 2016: With work on the second M1 service area near Lisburn nearing completion, this update is simply to report that as of today there is no evidence of any work taking place on the site of the eastbound M2 service area. Last year (see previous update) we had thought that it would be open before the end of 2016, but that clearly isn't going to happen. Since experience of these service areas suggests it takes about a year from breaking ground to opening, the earliest we could now expect this service area to be open would be late 2017. The westbound M2 service area has how been open for over 20 months and seems to be doing very well judging by the level of activity any time I've dropped in.

9 Nov 2015: The Belfast Telegraph did a piece on the M1 and M2 service areas about eight weeks ago. It notes that the northbound service area - which opened in April - has been so successful, that the staff levels have been increased from 75 to 120. Area manager Matthew Scally reveals in the article that the northbound service area cost 6.25m and is quoted as saying that "Applegreen on the westbound carriageway of the M1 at Lisburn will be open by the end of January next year and the other two [on the M2 and M1] are on schedule for the end of 2016". Work has not yet commenced on the southbound M2 service area, but this quote suggests that work will get underway during 2016 with completion due before the end of 2016. Meanwhile, the signage on the M2 motorway itself now includes an illuminated fuel price display system (before now the signage had a space for fuel prices but it was blank). This appears to have required a change to DRD policy, and has caused some controversy (note that the article has a picture of the updated signage).

5 Jul 2015: A representative of Applegreen was in touch with me in mid June, but for family reasons I've only just had a chance to update the site tonight. He confirmed that the works evident on the southbound (Belfast-bound) carriageway related to motorway communications and are NOT works on the southbound service area. He also said that there was currently no timescale for construction of the southbound service area.

8 May 2015: Today I had my first visit to the northbound service area, and it was very pleasant. The facilities were excellent and the place was so packed with customers that it was hard to find a parking space. Some people appeared to have come to the facility as a trip to enjoy the various food outlets, rather than just calling in "on the way past". So far it seems to have been a huge success. Applegreen have now confirmed, and signage on the M2 also confirms, that the site is called "Templepatrick Motorway Service Area". I think we also need to pause and reflect that this is the first motorway service area ever in Northern Ireland, and no matter what others open in the future, this one will always hold that place in history. I'm also going to backtrack on my comment in the previous update that work on the southbound service area had started. While there is evidence of work on the verge of the opposite carriageway, this appears to be limited to the M2 itself and appears to involve services, so it's not 100% whether it's related to the service area or is just coincidentally located at that spot. The months ahead will hopefully clear this up. Anyhow, some photos:


Pic 1: The offslip from the M2 into the service area seen on 8 May 2015 including another example of Northern Ireland's old favourite - the flashing red beacons to back up the No Entry sign. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 2: As you arrive at the service area you are greeted with this sign adverting the six choices of eating establishment, as well as the price of fuel. The advance sign further back on the M2 itself also has a place for fuel prices, but it's not clear how these will be displayed as there are no red lights like here. they are currently blank. 8 May 2015. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 3: Upon arrival at the top of the offslip you arrive at the fuel station. The car park is beside and beyond the building. 8 May 2015. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 4: Going on to the car park, and looking back, this is the other side of the terminal building. 8 May 2015 [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 5: Once your fuel tank and stomach are full, this is the onslip back on to the M2 seen on 8 May 2015. Interestingly the sign indicating the start of motorway restrictions is located half way down the offslip, so it would be legal to walk as far as the sign (although I didn't). [Wesley Johnston]

11 Apr 2015: The northbound service area opened to the public on Wednesday, 8 April. While great news in itself, it is also the first motorway service area in Northern Ireland. Since then reviews in the media and on social media have been universally positive, with particular mention to the surprisingly low fuel prices (110p per litre for unleaded on 10 April noted by @Bedhead1158). I have not been able to get any photos that I have permission to share here, but there is a wonderful set of images here. As well as selling fuel, it also offers a Burger King, Subway, Chopstix, The Bakewell, Lavazza and (soon) a Greggs bakery. It has two floors with seating both on the ground and first floors. Preliminary work on the southbound service area on the other side of the M2 appears to be underway. It's not yet clear if the service areas will have a proper name, like Applegreen's services in the Republic of Ireland, but "Templepatrick Services" is a possibility.

11 Mar 2015: According to some keen observers reporting their observations on SABRE, the site of the southbound service area (ie, the site opposite the one currently under construction on the northbound carriageway) was marked out at the weekend, and cones placed on the southbound M2. This is very likely to be work commencing on the site clearance and/or the sliproads for the southbound service area. If true, this is good news. The northbound service area now looks very advanced indeed and an opening before the end of March as anticipated last summer seems at least plausible. Signage indicating the start/end of motorway restrictions have appeared recently on the access sliproads.

7 Feb 2015: Work has progressed very well on the northbound service area (for traffic heading FROM Belfast), much more rapidly than the equivalent scheme on the M1. The two sliproads (offslip and onslip) were completed in December 2014 and the temporary speed limit removed on the motorway. Construction of the main building appears to be complete externally, with work underway to fit it out internally. However, it still looks as if there is quite a bit of work to be done on the rest of the site, eg in terms of earthworks, landscaping and construction of car parking. When the project began in June it was announced that it would open in March 2015, which now seems a bit optimistic, but it does look as if it could be open before the summer. There is no sign of work on the southbound service area which will eventually be built opposite this one for traffic heading TO Belfast. With thanks to 'Jonathan24' for observations on the scheme.

16 Jul 2014: The DRD have issued a notice that "works are being executed" on the northbound M2 at this location, beginning 10th July 2014 and ending on 13th November 2014. This can only refer to the construction of the offslip and onslip for the northbound service area, on which site clearance work has been underway since April. Whether or not work actually began during the Twelfth weekend I am not sure, but if not it is likely to begin imminently. Unlike the M1 service areas, the sites for which can only be accessed from the M1, construction vehicles can use the local road network to access the M2 service areas, meaning that work on the sliproads and work on the service areas themselves can take place simultaneously, which means that the scheduled opening date for this service area of March 2015 seems quite plausible.

19 Jun 2014: It has now been confirmed in the media that these service areas will be branded "Applegreen". The M2 one is due to open in March 2015. It's not clear from the news report whether this refers to the northbound service area only, on which work began in April, or both of them. The total cost of the M1 and M2 service areas together is 25m.

19 May 2014: Work started around April 2014 on clearing the site for the northbound service area. As far as I can tell, no work has taken place on the motorway itself, unlike the M1 service area which began with the sliproads being built. There are two possible reasons for this. Firstly, unlike on the M1, this site on the M2 can be accessed from the local road network, negating the need for provision of the sliproads to facilitate construction. Secondly, I can't find any evidence that the DRD has created the necessary legal orders to create sliproads onto the M2. The M1 service area is permitted by this legal order, but I can find no equivalent as yet for the M2. It's not clear whether the work that is currently ongoing is just one-off site clearance work, or whether it is the start of more substantial works that would see the service area completed and opened. We shall have to wait and see.