Belfast Telegraph

Planners reject multi-storey tower and flats plan in south Belfast

A Northern Ireland hotel group has been conclusively refused planning permission to demolish and rebuild a landmark venue.

The Planning Appeals Commission backed the decision of the Planning Service to refuse approval to the demolition and rebuild of the Wellington Park Hotel on Malone Road in south Belfast, part of a conservation area.

Owners Mooney Hotel Group had wanted to replace the existing 75 room hotel with a seven storey 112 bedroomed hotel and an apartment block.

The application was backed by city councillors but around 155 residents of the area objected to the development.

No-one from the Mooney Group, which also owns Armagh’s City Hotel and the Dunadry Hotel, was available for comment.

According to the company’s website, the proposed development was a “striking £30m plan” which would have generated 200 new jobs for the group.

But the PAC’s report said that while economic development was supported, a “balancing exercise” was necessary.

“There is no objection to the redevelopment of the hotel. The objection is to the extent of the expansion and its effect on this area. Weight was given to the economic aspects relating to the proposal but, on balance, they do not outweigh the other planning concerns.”

SDLP MLA Conall McDevitt said he agreed with the PAC’s decision.

“It is consistent with planning policy and it would also be consistent with the overwhelming majority of people who live there. The proposals were way beyond what is acceptable in that part of the city.

“That is a view that I and many of the people I represent would share.”

The PAC — which handles appeals from decisions by the Planning Service — said the development would not have amounted to a quality residential environment and would have damaged the character of the Malone Conservation Area because of inappropriate scale, form, massing and design.

The hotel was bought by the family in 1957 and first opened as a six bedroomed property with one banqueting suite. The hotel was then redeveloped in the mid-1960s and in the late 1990s, when more bedrooms and conference facilities were added.

The applications to demolish the existing building and to build were dismissed. Refusal was also given to an application for listed building consent for alterations to the back of 6 Wellington Park.

The PAC said the development would have overshadowed nearby homes and would have failed to provide adequate space for its own proposed residents. Apartments would also have lacked natural light. Amendments were made to the original proposal, including reducing the number of rooms from 128 bedrooms to 112 and the number of apartments from 102 to 95. But the amended proposal was still refused.

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