£8M extension approved for Templepatrick hotel despite parking concerns

46-bedroom block is to be built under new plans given the green light by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council

The Rabbit Hotel in Templepatrick.
The Rabbit Hotel in Templepatrick.

Permission for an £8m extension at a Co Antrim hotel has been granted despite concerns over parking facilities.

The extension for the The Rabbit Hotel in Templepatrick was given the green light by members of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s planning committee meeting on Monday.

The proposal is for a new 46-bedroom block, spa and leisure facilities, parking and landscaping at the Antrim Road establishment on a site to the rear of the existing hotel.

The council’s principal planning officer told the committee the proposed site is located between a neighbouring housing development which is under construction, and an existing lake.

He indicated planning conditions would mean there “will not be significant impact” on neighbouring properties with regard to noise. He noted 43 new parking spaces are to be provided and he went on to say a “shortfall is not so significant as to warrant a refusal”.

The Rabbit Hotel in Templepatrick was formerly The Templeton Hotel before acquired by the being Galgorm Collection in 2019.
The Rabbit Hotel in Templepatrick was formerly The Templeton Hotel before acquired by the being Galgorm Collection in 2019.

He added that a survey carried out by officers showed, at times, there is “a lack of parking which has resulted in some on-street parking as well as parking at a ‘Park and Ride’”.

Objector James Clarke pointed out NI Water has recommended the application be refused, and he said an “insufficient level of parking is being proposed”.

He suggested if an event such as a wedding is taking place in the hotel, parking may occur in neighbouring streets.

Another objector, Angela Barton, said she opposed the size of the development and its location, citing water pressure concerns, noise levels and parking.

David Mountstephen, a town planner, told the meeting changes have been made to the proposal at the request of the council, which he said, include a decrease in the number of bedrooms, from 50 and an increase in parking spaces.

He said: “The proposal is for 46 bedrooms. It is not in the interest of the hotel for guests or neighbours to experience unacceptable adverse impact on amenity. In relation to parking, it is in the interest of the hotel to provide adequate parking facilities. That has been subject to robust assessment surveys during peak periods. It is a high quality development. It is a significant investment.”

Colin Johnston, managing director of Galgorm Collection, said the group purchased the former Templeton Hotel in 2019 with the restaurant and bar opening in July 2020, and guest rooms the following year.

Mr Johnston reported the sum of £11m has been invested in the property and an additional 17 guest rooms are being added at a cost of £2.5m. The new extension of 46 bedrooms, he said, will be a further £8m investment.

He said that 150 staff are employed at The Rabbit and an additional 30 jobs are expected to be created.

Committee chair, UUP councillor Robert Foster, questioned whether the parking survey was “robust” and if staff parking would be increased.

He was told the additional parking spaces would be “enough to accommodate the demand generated at the site” and the traffic survey had been “a very robust assessment”.

However, Mr Foster stated it had been carried out on a weekday and not at one of the busiest times.

“People use the overflow car park in the ‘Park and Ride’. If there were enough spaces, they would not need to do that. If there are not enough, people will park on the streets,” he said.

Planning permission was approved following a vote with six councillors in favour and five against.