Ards and North Down Alliance Councillor Andrew Muir is keeping up the pressure to complete much needed upgrades of the North Down Coastal Path in order to make the path safe and accessible to all. The path runs from Bangor to Kinnegar in Holywood and has been upgraded in sections over the last number of years but travel between Seahill and Cultra remains challenging in places with very narrow paths and steep drops to the rocks and shoreline.
Commenting on the issue, Councillor Muir stated “After raising the issue at the Council’s monthly Community & Wellbeing Committee meeting I was delighted to receive a detailed update from Council officers outlining exciting plans for a Kinnegar to Donaghadee Greenway via the North Down Coastal Path. Plans are currently being finalised with public consultation on the developed design scheduled to occur from late April with a public information event and opportunity to submit views over a 12 week period. Views will then be collated and proposed design then presented to Council for approval. An update report is also due to be received by Council in April 2018 detailing progress concerning Council’s wider Greenway strategy which hopes to connect up many parts of the Borough via traffic free routes.
Whilst any upgrade of the North Down Coastal Path must respect and protect the local environment, as has been proven in other sections, innovative ways exist to upgrade the path whilst ensuring the tranquil nature is preserved. Whether it’s improved physical and mental health, enabling more sustainable transport or increased trade for local businesses upgrade of the North Down Coastal Path has enormous positive potential as part of wider Kinnegar to Donaghadee Greenway. The Comber Greenway and others across the British Isles are great examples of what’s possible.
As a keen runner I regularly use the North Down Coastal path and was involved in securing upgrade of previous sections such as the new Boardwalk which replaced the steep steps at Seahill and obtaining 24/7 access between the Kinnegar and Airport Road sectors linking Holywood and Belfast. With the route now upgraded the entire way from Seahill to Bangor many people can be found enjoying the path especially with the arrival of brighter nights. Whether it’s walkers, runners, those exercising their dogs or, cyclists (where permissible and safe to do so at a leisurely pace) success of this shared path is something to celebrate.
At least one person has however reported to me a bad fall onto the rocks along one of the narrow sections in need of upgrade. Plans to finish the job and upgrade the remaining sections of the North Down Coastal Path are therefore warmly welcomed, alongside news that the Council will seek to link the path with the newly proposed Sydenham Greenway. Running from Kinnegar in Holywood to Victoria Park in East Belfast, the Sydenham Greenway would provide a scenic and traffic free route between Holywood and Belfast City, negating the need to travel along the busy Sydenham Bypass or alongside articulated lorries using Airport Road Industrial Estate. I have already started work with my colleagues in Belfast City Council to see this exciting scheme realised and am reassured that Ards and North Down Borough Council are committed to linking up with what will be another vital part of our Greenway infrastructure.”