Donaghadee Harbour Recreational area

Closed 19 Mar 2021

Opened 5 Mar 2021

Results updated 18 Jun 2021

Donaghadee Harbour Recreational Area: Consultation Results.

Between 05 March and 19 March 2021, we consulted on the proposal to create a recreational area within the bay of Donaghadee Harbour. Council feels this is an important safety measure for many swimmers, kayakers and other users of non-motorised craft that frequent the area.

We received 321 responses to the consultation. 

We asked what people used the Harbour for.  56% of respondents used the area for swimming, 32% of respondents used the area for paddle boarding or kayaking and 30% of respondents used the area in one way or another for boats.  (Some respondents used the area for more than one purpose).

We asked if people agreed with the principle of creating a space for recreational activities in the harbour.  There was overwhelming support for the idea with 89% of respondents agreeing with the principle of creating a recreational area within the harbour.

10% of respondents did not agree, with 7% stating they thought it was a bad idea or had some concerns. Some had concerns about the mixing of groups of vessels (for example regattas or sailing coaching sessions) with swimmers. It should be noted that we hope to address this issue as part of our Slipway permit system, soon to be introduced.

We asked if people agreed with the proposed area identified on the image provided.  61% of respondents agreed with the proposal as suggested.  17% of respondents suggested that it should be larger (encompassing North Pier and Kelly’s steps).  5% of respondents suggested the area should be smaller.  The area cannot be extended to include the north pier as this would prevent motorised boats launching at the slip and making their way directly to the inner harbour; this was explained in the introduction of the survey.  Whilst the area could be made smaller, this would be against the wishes of the significant number of people particularly those who requested it to be bigger. The originally proposed size therefore presents a degree of compromise.

We asked if the respondents wished to make any other comments on this proposal. 10% of respondents suggested that enforcement will be needed to ensure that users abide by the rules.

The Harbour master and his staff will be onsite daily to enforce restrictions as required, however it should be noted that oversight will not be present at all times and the success of the area is largely down to the various user groups being tolerant and considerate to one another’s needs.

The introduction of the slipway permit system will help considerably with enforcement as when permits are being taken out information about the recreational area will be provided. It will also help us maintain a record of who uses the slipway, should any subsequent complaints be received.

Kelly's Steps appears to be a potential clash point with elements of several user groups stating a desire for its use (some respondents wished the recreational area to include it and others requested that it was excluded, only being accessible by vessels). 

These steps are clearly beneficial and indeed necessary for both the users of the recreational area and vessel owners alike. The steps must sit outside of the recreational area so that vessels can access the steps and the refuelling berth. However, swimming is still permitted at the steps (but not beyond them, in the inner harbour).  Therefore, ALL users need to show particular care and consideration to others in this area and signage will be installed to reflect this.

Some comments were made about how the area will be demarcated. The area will be marked by a series of around 6no.buoys. The buoys will be attached to sinkers buried in the sand. The buoys WILL NOT be connected together ie. by floats, a rope etc. as this would present an entanglement risk to vessels.

Next Steps
Council will begin to implement the recreational area by installing appropriate signage and markings over the summer, subject to marine license approval by DAERA (for the buoys).


Council recently agreed to create a recreational area within the bay of Donaghadee Harbour.  Council feels this is an important safety measure for many swimmers, kayakers and other users of non-motorised craft that frequent the area.

The proposed recreational area will give people a dedicated space to engage in non-motorised recreation. i.e swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing dinghies etc. These users can still participate in these activities outside of the zone, but naturally there is an increased risk of collision with motorised vessels.

Motorised safety boats for structured activities or events wil be permitted to enter the space.

For safety reasons, swimming remains prohibited in the inner harbour (between Kelly's steps and the lighthouse).  Please respect this by-law for your own safety and to ensure the launching of the lifeboat is unhindered.

The proposed area will be unmanned i.e. no lifeguard will be present. Users will need to respect the water and take appropriate precautions to ensure their safety.

The recreational area will allow for clear passage between the slipway and the inner harbour to facilitate the launching of vessels going to the harbour.

The slipway will remain a shared space and all users should show consideration to one another.  However, the slipways primary purpose remains for the launching and retrieving of vessels and therefore vessels shall have the right of way at all times.

We are keen to ensure that the new area will meet the needs of all user groups. Please help us achieve this by answering the questions on this survey.




  • Residents


  • Community Consultation