Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Planners reject hotel scheme

A multi-million pound proposal to tear down a south Belfast hotel and replace it with one more than twice its size has been knocked back by the Planning Service.

Owners of the Wellington Park Hotel - the Mooney Group - wanted to transform the eight-storey building into a 15-storey 128-bedroom hotel complete with restaurant, café, bar, retail space, conference and syndicate rooms and a business club ancillary office.

The £30m proposal also included 102 apartments with car parking in the basement and promised to create around 200 jobs.

But the large-scale development encountered opposition from residents over the years who feared a larger hotel would have a detrimental effect on the aesthetics of the area and increase traffic.

Dr Evelyn Mullally, secretary of the Lower Malone Residents' Association, which has been fighting the application for the past three years, said the community group welcomed the decision but wanted to highlight that it was not opposed to the redevelopment of the hotel, just the scale of it.

The association had maintained that the proposed application was "not in keeping" with the Malone Conservation Area and would have created major traffic problems in an already busy part of the city.

"We are extremely happy with the decision," she said.

"I feel it was the right thing to do. The size of the proposed hotel was out of proportion to the area. Not only was there going to be more rooms, they were planning on putting in more car spaces which would increase traffic here."

A spokesman from the Planning Service said the application was rejected on the grounds that it was "contrary" to the authority's policy on planning, archaeology and built heritage.

"It would, if permitted, harm the essential character of the building and harm its setting due to inappropriate proximity, siting, scale, massing and design," he said.

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