Belfast Telegraph

Residents furious after 400-year-old boathouse is razed

A 400-year-old boathouse on the Antrim coast has been bulldozed sparking a wave of anger from residents.

Locals say the old building is part of the heritage of Ballygally and is now gone for good.

The old boathouse was owned by Hastings Hotels which operates the Ballygally Castle Hotel.

The castle itself is a listed building but the boathouse had no such protection.

The company had originally applied for change of use of the existing craft shop but, after demolishing it this summer, Hastings Hotels applied for retrospective planning permission to demolish the building and extend a neighbouring retaining wall and car parking area associated with the Ballygally Castle Hotel.

Resident Muriel Harbinson said an earlier planning application to bulldoze the boathouse and make it into apartments came to nothing due to local opposition.

“The next thing was that they applied for planning permission to enhance the boathouse and fix it up — it had fallen into neglect,” she said.

“Then they were taking down the roof of the boathouse and the next day I discovered they had bulldozed the whole thing.

“Through getting in touch with the architect and builders I found they had abandoned that project of fixing the boathouse and instead were going to extend the car park. They had bulldozed the boathouse, to everybody’s disgust.

“The extension towards the beach is what I object to, due to the danger it could create with landfill or subsidence, with it claiming a bit of the beach at the high tide level. The large boulder that was there for protection from the sea has been moved and there’s a danger of it coming in and eroding the land.

“That little boathouse was part of the scene of Ballygally. The castle dates back to 1600 and this was once the waterguard, used to guard against smugglers. In the past it was used to start up Ballygally rowing club and later it was let to someone as a little studio.

“After she left, they never bothered with it and it was neglected. We can’t bring back the boathouse but at least we can stop any damage that may result.”

A spokesperson for the Planning Service said: “Planning permission was granted for ‘change of use of existing craft shop’ on May 21 2009.

“An application was received on August 19, 2010 for ‘retrospective planning application to demolish one single storey building’.”

A Roads Service spokesperson said: “Roads Service are currently investigating this construction work and are in discussions with the designers of the scheme.”

Hastings Hotels said the works being carried out at Ballygally |are all being done in total |compliance with the building control and the planning departments.

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