Planning Portal

Launch of Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan and Belfast Metropolitan Transport Plan

Published on Tue, 30 Nov 2004
Environment Minister, Angela Smith, and Regional Development Minister, John Spellar, today announced the publication of the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan (BMAP) and the Belfast Metropolitan Transport Plan (BMTP).
At the joint launch in the Stormont Hotel this morning, both Ministers emphasised that BMAP and BMTP set out a vision for a sustainable approach to meeting the wide range of development needed for the people living, working and visiting the Metropolitan Area in the new millennium, including housing, retail, commerce, regeneration, infrastructure and urban design.
Both Ministers stressed that integrated land use and transport were crucial aspects of both plans, and pointed out that officials in both Departments worked together as part of joined up Government to ensure that transport infrastructure has a high priority when considering planning for land use.
Angela Smith said: "The Belfast Metropolitan Plan represents a significant milestone in influencing the quality of the urban and rural environment, both for today's citizens and for future generations. It is a major step forward in providing a development strategy for the six local Councils included in the Metropolitan Area and I have ensured that, within the Plan, sustainability underpins growth.
"BMAP will supersede a number of existing development plans covering about 40 percent of the Northern Ireland population. I am pleased that there has been an unprecedented level of public consultation to ensure local inclusion in a Plan that will play an important part in enhancing the quality of life of all citizens."
Speaking on the Transport Plan, Minister Spellar said: "The transport proposals are based upon the levels of funding and strategic direction provided by the Regional Transportation Strategy and accepted by the Assembly in 2002. The Transport Plan has been developed in conjunction with the Area Plan to ensure integration of transport and land use, providing a balanced and sustainable system for the region up to 2015."
Proposals in the Transport Plan include enhanced public transport, improved rail and bus services, new and improved park and ride facilities and quality bus corridors, as well as enhanced walking and cycling provision, all of which would help reduce reliance on private cars.
The Plan recognises that 'road building', vital though it is, will not on its own solve our transport problems. It proposes the use of a toolkit of innovative traffic management techniques and modern technology to ease the movement of all traffic. Route Management Strategies will be developed, which will include safety measures, network control systems, incident detection systems and real time management and action to provide detailed information for drivers and make the most efficient use of the available road space. However, the Plan also identifies a number of highway improvements necessary to remove bottlenecks on economic arteries and support planned development.
Both Ministers paid tribute to all the elected representatives from the six local councils, who had contributed to the process. Angela Smith thanked in particular the BMAP Political Group, saying: "This group has made a crucial contribution to ensure that BMAP offers tangible benefits through a sustained environment and an improved economic infrastructure."
Both Ministers stressed that the joint launch of BMAP and BMTP was an example of joined up government in action, working for the citizen.

Notes to Editors on Transport Plan

  1. The BMTP is launched today as the Department for Regional Development's transport proposals up to 2015 and is a non-statutory document.
  2. The BMTP is one of three transport plans related to the implementation of the Regional Transportation Strategy (RTS) and covers the six council areas of Belfast, Carrickfergus, Castlereagh, Lisburn, Newtownabbey and North Down, which make up the BMA.
  3. An extensive consultation exercise was undertaken as an integral part of the BMTP process, taking into account the views of a wide range of stakeholders in the development of the Plan. This included discussions with reference, focus and key stakeholders groups, representatives of six Councils and a major working conference to obtain views on the emerging Plan.
  4. The BMTP sets out a range of proposals under Walking and Cycling, Public Transport, Highway Network and Management. Key features include:
    • improvements in facilities for walking and cycling;
    • step-change in quality of public transport provision that builds on the current commitments to invest in the core rail network and modernise the bus fleet. Proposals include an ambitious Park and Ride programme to provide an alterative to driving all the way into cities and towns by car, 14 Quality Bus Corridors, improvements to rail services and the commencement of a Rapid Transit network;
    • Highway improvements focused on improving the efficiency and safety of the road network, using innovative traffic management techniques, modern technology together with a number of highway schemes necessary to remove bottlenecks;
    • better management of the transport systems through the application of modern technology, parking controls and measures to change travel attitudes.
  5. The total proposed expenditure is estimated to be £1.9bn, which is broadly consistent with the RTS. About £430m (or 22%) is proposed for improvements to rail services and a similar amount is proposed for improvements to bus services. £922m (or 48%) is proposed to highways, of which, £600m is for the routine and structural maintenance of the highway network. The Plan proposals will be progressed on a measure-by-measure basis subject to:
    • detailed economic appraisal;
    • clearing the relevant statutory procedures such as environmental assessment, planning and land acquisition (each of which may require public inquiries); and
    • the availability of funds through the normal budgetary processes.
  6. Further details of the proposals can be obtained in a press information pack which is available from DRD Press Office telephone no: 028 9054 0372 or DOE Press Office telephone no: 028 9054 0003.

Notes to Editors of BMAP

The Process

  • Issues paper published in 2001;
  • Extensive public consultation;
  • Draft plan published 30 November 2004;
  • 8 week period of consultation ending 25 January 2005;
  • BMAP/BMTP displays at 6 centres: The Place Belfast; Lisburn City Council Offices; Carrickfergus, Castlereagh and Newtownabbey Council Offices; and the Signal Business Growth Centre Bangor;
  • Available on this website BMAP Political Group met on 9 occasions since the Issues Paper was published in 2001. The last meeting was on 25 November 2004 when members were briefed on the key issues included in BMAP.

The Plan

  • BMAP covers the City Council Areas of Belfast and Lisburn and the Borough Council areas of Carrickfergus, Castlereagh, Newtownabbey and North Down.
  • Population of 650,000 representing 40% of Northern Ireland total
  • 1400 pages of text/800 maps
  • 7 Volumes including a separate volume for each of the six council areas
  • 14 Technical Supplements in 19 Volumes including consultants findings

Key Messages


  • Plan makes provision for approximately 63,000 dwellings up to 2015;
  • Over 70% of dwellings are within existing urban footprints (brownfield) which exceeds the 60% target in the RDS;
  • Approximately 1,780 hectares zoned for housing;
  • Land zoned for social housing.


  • Over 480 hectares zoned for employment/industry;
  • Four major employment locations at Global Point, Newtownabbey, Titanic Quarter, Belfast, Purdysburn, Castlereagh and Blaris, West Lisburn;
  • Policies to protect existing industrial land.


  • land use/spatial planning issues;
  • improved walking and cycling provision;
  • enhanced public transport;
  • improved rail and bus services;
  • new and improved park and ride facilities;
  • quality bus corridors;

City and Town Centres

  • Belfast City Centre promoted as leading shopping centre in Northern Ireland;
  • Lisburn City Centre and other town centres promoted as main foci for retailing and offices;
  • Belfast City Centre promoted as the primary location for office development;
  • Outside city and town centres the nature and scale of retailing is controlled.

Urban Environment

  • Over 100 Areas of Townscape Character;
  • Historic Parks, Gardens and Demesnes;
  • Urban design guidance for city and town centres and Arterial Routes.

Natural Environment

  • Green Belt for entire rural area;
  • Coastal Policy to protect amenity of coast;
  • Built heritage protected;
  • Areas of High Scenic Value to protect Belfast and Castlereagh Hills;
  • Urban and Rural Landscape Wedges to protects open areas between settlements;
  • Additional Protection for Lagan Valley Regional Park;
  • 246 Sites of Local Nature Conservation Importance;
  • 296 Local Landscape Policy Areas;
  • Community Greenways;
  • Provision of open space.
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