£25 million Fermanagh tourist resort met with council opposition

Plans for the Catalina Bay Resort include a 83 bed four-star hotel, 68-self catering courtyard apartments and 10 self-catering lodges

AMBITIOUS plans for a new £25 million tourist resort on Lough Erne that could generate up to £8.7 million a year for the economy have been met with opposition from Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

The local council has voiced objections to the project at Gublusk Bay in Killadeas on the grounds that there is not sufficient demand for the development.

The plans for the 'Catalina Bay Resort' were first proposed in 2011 by Enniskillen developers Townland Properties Ltd and include a 83 bed four-star hotel, 68-self catering courtyard apartments and 10 self-catering lodges, all part of a 'tourist destination resort' in the heart of Lough Erne.

The site for the resort, part of which was previously laid out as a caravan park, comprises approximately 35 acres of woodland and grass fields, as well as a large area of hard standing along the water’s edge which formed part of the RAF Killadeas airbase used by Catalina sea planes in World War Two.

The proposed resort takes its name from these aircraft, and the project includes a heritage centre which will tell the story of RAF Killadeas.

The development, which further includes an 100 berth floating marina, leisure facilities, restaurant and a RNLI station has the potential to create over 700 construction jobs and 140 full-time equivalent positions once operational according to the applicant, but has faced local opposition since its inception.

A total of 24 letters of objection have been lodged with planning service since 2011 and in consultation responses sent to the Department for Infrastructure last week, both Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Enniskillen Airport outlined their dissenting voices.

In its response the council expressed concerns over the impact on the "vulnerable" rural landscape and questioned the need for it.

"The applicant should demonstrate that there is demand for all the development proposed, including the hotel and chalet development. This is a concern that the demand for tourist accommodation is not as significant as the proposal demonstrates," they said.

In its consultation response Enniskillen Airport states that the proposed development is within the air traffic zone and in close proximity to runway approaches.

"We would therefore object to the approval of such a development on the grounds of safety," manager Noel Baskin said.

Opposition has also previously been expressed by the neighbouring Manor House Country Hotel, which said the development could "hinder further investment".

An independent report commissioned by CHL Consulting on behalf of Townland Properties refutes concerns in relation to demand stating that the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area has a "relatively small stock of hotel accommodation for a tourist destination with aspirations for growth" and "achieving future growth in tourism activity in the District will require increased hotel capacity".

The report further states that the Catalina Bay Resort will bring more than 16,500 additional visitors each year, contribute up to £8.7 million annually to the local economy and is in line with Tourism NI's corporate plan for growth as well as the council's development strategy.

The project has yet to be granted planning permission, but it is understood the desire remains from the applicant to pursue with the resort.

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