Ards and Down Area Plan 2015
Down District: Ballynahinch
Ballynahinch is situated in the north-west of the District, approximately 24 kilometres from Belfast, 16 kilometres from Downpatrick and almost equidistant between Downpatrick and Lisburn.
The town dates back to the eighteenth century when it developed adjacent to the Ballynahinch River. Today it functions as a service centre, commuter settlement, manufacturing and market town.
It has an attractive landscape setting provided by a series of distinct and undeveloped drumlins. High ground and mature trees provide a natural limit to development to the west, adjacent to Grove Road. The Montalto Estate to the south west provides a wooded backdrop to the town while drumlins to the east are prominent visual features in the local landscape. These natural features are highlighted as forming part of the landscape setting of the town in the Northern Ireland Ballynahinch Landscape Character Assessment Report for Down District.
The Sewage Treatment Works is located at the south-east side of the town. Proposed development in Ballynahinch may require the strengthening of the existing foul sewerage and storm water systems in some areas of the town. Water supply problems are not anticipated. An upgrade to the existing Waste Water Treatment facility is programmed during 2010-2013 subject to Capital Programme determination.
Flooding is a recurrent problem in the Ballynahinch River valley. This affects a portion of the urban area. Rivers Agency is currently designing flood alleviation works that will protect existing properties to a 1 in 50 year standard. The existing river flood plain upstream from the town centre forms part of the scheme design. Regional planning policy does not permit development in areas known to be at serious risk of flooding.
Regional Policy Context
The Regional Development Strategy, (RDS), identifies Ballynahinch as a local hub below the level of Downpatrick, the main town in Down District. Local hubs are towns strategically located on the Regional Strategic Transport Network, which have the capacity to accommodate and provide a wide range of complementary services.
The RDS indicates that Ballynahinch is one of seven small towns in the Belfast Metropolitan Area hinterland which, by reason of location in relation to Key Transportation Corridors and their existing facilities and infrastructure, are to accommodate significant planned expansion to meet housing need related to the Belfast Metropolitan Area, (BMA). The housing proposed in Ballynahinch is allocated from the housing growth indicator for Down District in conformity with specific guidelines outlined in the RDS.
Planned expansion is to comprise housing and economic development, the scale nature and phasing of which is to be determined through the development plan process, subject to the search sequencing procedure required by the RDS, and to take account of the following sustainability objectives:
- produce a sustainable pattern of development;
- maintain a complementary and balanced relationship with the main towns;
- prevent an increase in longer distance car trips and especially to the BMA from small towns which are unlikely to be able to offer as much local employment for their residents;
- protect the identity, character and setting of the towns, and to integrate any expansion with the topographical setting; and
- avoid a mismatch with the provision of both “hard” and “soft” infrastructure.