County Antrim

‘Mark Three’ New Town – Designated 31 July 1967

The 1962 plan for the Greater Belfast region recommended the expansion of a number of existing towns in the region in order to reduce the concentration of population and employment in Belfast. Ballymena’s close links with Antrim led to their joint designation and development by a single Development Corporation. Ballymena has a stronger industrial base and a larger sphere of influence and so has most of the large shops, malls, offices and administrative functions. Today, Ballymena benefits from an excellent location on the edge of the Belfast Metropolitan Area, with easy access to the International and City Airports and the ports of Larne and Belfast. It is a significant retail centre and is complemented by nearby tourism attractions. A targeted investment strategy aims to further develop the town’s role as a cultural and visitor centre.

Key facts:

  • Location: 40 kilometres north west of Belfast, 18 kilometres north of Antrim.
  • 2011 Census population: 33,249, in 12,263 households.
  • Local authority: Ballymena Borough Council (from April 2015 Mid and East Antrim District Council under Northern Ireland’s new local government arrangements).
  • Local Plan status: Ballymena Area Plan 1986-2001, Larne Area Plan 1984-2010, Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan 2015.

New Town designation:

  • Designated: 31 July 1967. The entire rural area was designated, with ‘distinguished’ boundaries for Ballymena town and the four ‘key’ villages of Ahoghill, Broughshane, Culleybackey and Kells/Connor.
  • Designated area: 63,661 hectares.
  • Intended population: 60,000 (population at designation: 25,000).
  • Development Corporation: Designated to expand the growth town of Ballymena and villages in the hinterland and redevelop to modern standards. The Ballymena and nearby Antrim New Towns were overseen by a single Antrim and Ballymena Development Commission, but developed as separate entities to reflect their differing characteristics. The Ministry developed the masterplan, with guidance from a steering group of county and rural councils. Development Corporation wound up 1 October 1973.

Figures taken from Ballymena ‘5 minute’ fact sheet – TCPA New Towns and Garden Cities, Lessons for Tomorrow research, available here.

Council website:

Photo credits: Jimmyray123, Wikivoyage