A PLANNING application for a four-star hotel in Lisburn has been given the go-ahead by the Environment Minister.
Plans for the 100-bedroom venue on Hillsborough Road were re-submitted after being rejected in 2009.
The city already has a budget hotel run by the Premier Inn chain.
Minister Alex Attwood said he had decided to approve the application.
He stressed: "This is great news for Lisburn given the economic and social benefits it will bring to the city, including up to 200 new jobs.
"It will enhance the range of tourist accommodation in the area and boost visitor numbers to the benefit of local shops, restaurants and businesses."
Applicant Peter Cleland of Arborhill Ltd in west Belfast's Springboard Business Centre now has permission to knock down a house on the site and build a hotel with function rooms, health suite, tourist centre and car parking.
The application had been designated by DOE as "of major importance" under Article 31 of the Planning (NI) order.
Michael Williamson, a director in hospitality at chartered accountants ASM, said: "I have held the view for many years that Lisburn warrants the development of a full-service, quality hotel, at four-star level.
"Research undertaken by this firm indicated that while demand existed for such facilities, potential customers were forced to use hotels in Belfast on account of the absence of appropriate facilities locally.
"Given its geographically important position as a north/south axis point, I remain of the view that Lisburn city can support such a hotel development.
"The success of, and plans to extend, the Premier Inn on the Hillsborough Road in the city underscore the point that Lisburn has been under-served by hotels for too long".
Ken Cleland, a director of Arborhill Ltd and a well-known businessman, had campaigned for the residents of Lisburn to support the scheme after it was initially turned down by planners.
He told a newspaper in the area in 2010: "The three-star Premier Inn, which opened last year, is reporting extremely high levels of occupancy confirming that additional hotel facilities are required for this growing city.
Mr Cleland added: "Rather than being in competition, the two hotels will complement each other."
The number of jobs set to be created by the new hotel in Lisburn