Developers 'may walk away' from delayed £6.7m Portrush hotel project

Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE developers behind a proposed new 87-bed boutique hotel in Portrush town centre have slammed delays in approving the scheme as "unacceptable".

And they are now threatening to walk away from a £6 million-plus project they claim will create 48 jobs during the construction phase and 41 permanent posts when it eventually opens.

Andras Hotels first lodged proposals in May 2017 to build on the site of the former Londonderry Hotel on Main Street/Atlantic Avenue.

The building was subsequently awarded a grade B1 listing, leading to the scheme being redesigned and resubmitted for planning, and this was approved by the Causeway Coast and Glens Council planning committee this month last year.

But the Historic Environment Division objected to the application, which led it being ‘called-in' by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI).

Andras Hotels director Rajesh Rana said: “These ongoing delays are putting the proposal in jeopardy. This is an important development for us and the north coast area, and the delay is unacceptable.

“Following the listing of the building we completely redesigned the proposal to retain the important listed front terrace and provide modern accommodation to the rear, which I genuinely believe offers the best of both worlds.

“The Council have been supportive at all levels, recognising the need to bring regeneration, investment and much-needed tourist accommodation into the heart of the town, and the benefits of our £6.6m investment will be a game change for the local economy, with £1.4m generated each year in output.

“But unfortunately it has been called-in by the DfI after eight months, and it is now stuck in an open-ended process with no time-lines, no ability to make representations nor any democratic accountability.

“We cannot wait endlessly for this application to be approved as we have other commitments, and as a result of the delay we need to re-examine our priorities and will now be progressing plans for projects elsewhere."

He added: “We urge infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon to urgently prioritise all planning applications that have been called in or are unreasonably delayed.”

Last night Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council said it will not be making a comment in relation to this matter.

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