Hotelier says Portrush scheme ‘in jeopardy’ due to planning delays
Belfast’s largest hotelier, Andras Hotels, has announced that it is reconsidering its priorities due to ongoing delays to planning for its hotel proposal in Portrush.
The plans for the 87-bedroom boutique hotel at 39-41 Main Street were originally lodged in May 2017. The building was subsequently listed by the Department for Communities, leading to the scheme being redesigned and resubmitted for planning approval.
The revised scheme was approved a year ago by the Causeway Coast and Glens Council, when its Planning Committee approved the planning application on 23rd January 2019.
The application was then ‘called in’ by the Department for Infrastructure who have been re-examining the proposals for the past 12 months.
Director of Andras Hotels, Rajesh Rana, said:
“The on-going delay in approving this scheme is putting this proposal in jeopardy. This is an important development for us and for the North Coast area and the delay in approving the project 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. I genuinely believe this is now the best of both worlds.
“The Council have been very supportive at all levels, as they recognise the need to bring regeneration, investment and much-needed tourist accommodation into the heart of the town. This project will create 48 jobs during its construction phase and 41 permanent jobs when it opens. The economic benefits of this £6.6million investment will be a game change for the local economy, with £1.4million generated each year in economic output.
“Unfortunately, the Historic Environment Division objected to the application, which led it being ‘called-in’ by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI). The DfI took eight months to decide whether or not to call it in, and now it is stuck in an open-ended process with no timelines, no ability to make representations nor any democratic accountability.
“We cannot wait endlessly for this application to be approved as we have other commitments we need to fulfil. Unelected and unaccountable public servants cannot be allowed to hold-up investment in this way.
“As a result of the delay we need to re-examine our priorities and we will now be progressing plans for projects elsewhere in NI.
Rajesh concluded: “It is positive news that the Assembly is back to work and we request that the Minister for the Department for Infrastructure, Nichola Mallon MLA, prioritises this issue for all planning applications that have been called in or unreasonably delayed as a matter of urgency.”
Andras Hotels was founded in Belfast in 1981. It currently operates six internationally-branded hotels in Belfast; Holiday Inn® Express, Holiday Inn®, Belfast City Centre, two Ibis Hotels, Hampton by Hilton and the Crowne Plaza.