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£1m guest house plan for listed building in Northern Ireland splits opinion


The building in Hillsborough

The building in Hillsborough

Andrea Edens, who runs Humble Pie Cafe

Andrea Edens, who runs Humble Pie Cafe

Hillsborough Town

Hillsborough Town

The building in Hillsborough

The new owners of a listed building in the centre of Hillsborough have unveiled a £1m plan to convert it into a 15-bedroom guest house.

Lynne and Jonathan McCabe have submitted a planning application to turn 4-6 Main Street into boutique accommodation.

The couple already run Lisnacurran House, an 11-bedroom guest house between the village and Dromore.

The plans involve replacing an existing shop with a coffee shop and demolishing an extension at the back, replacing it with a mock Georgian structure.

The 19th century shop front and arch would be retained.

Views on the proposal are mixed.

While the investment has been welcomed, some expressed concern that Hillsborough was becoming saturated with coffee shops.

Andrea Edens, who runs the Humble Pie cafe just a few doors away, has been trading in Hillsborough for 13 years.

"I'm just worried about the fact that there's going to be another coffee shop," she said.

She added that it, coupled with plans to open new eateries inside Hillsborough Castle, could leave eight coffee shops in close proximity.

It is understood the current tenants of the shop - Candy Plum - could be forced to relocate ahead of any work.

The popular fashion boutique has a large following on social media.

One local trader, who did not wish to be named, said that while any redevelopment is a welcome boost to the local economy, "it should not be at the expense of any long established retail businesses, which attract shoppers and diners to the village".

"The village needs a wide variety of retail businesses in order to attract footfall and offer visitors and locals a diverse experience," they added.

However, Derek Patterson, owner of the village's famous Plough Inn, said any new guest accommodation in the area was to be welcomed.

"It is contributing to the economics, it is making it an attraction and it is improving the visitor experience to the village and enhancing it," he said.

"The building is in bad repair, it looks terrible, it has had no investment. If anything, it is going to change the facade and improve it. Anything that tidies up the town makes commercial sense."

Ms McCabe said the building needed a total refurbishment.

She added that the current plan was for a ground floor coffee shop, but said that the finer details had yet to be finalised.

"This product is going to be very different," she said. "We are going to be charging over £100 per night per room.

"It's a different market, it's the people who want to go to the Plough, the Hillside or the Parson's Nose for dinner and walk home.

"I have been in the planning for this for a very long time.

"I know that the market is there for accommodation in the Lisburn and Castlereagh district."

A number of hotel developments remain in the works for the Hillsborough area.

A £60m plan by Wilmar Ltd for a golf course, luxury hotel and holiday apartments was given the go-ahead in 2016.

A plan has also been approved for a four-star hotel and conference centre in the village.

Invest In Sport Ltd, a sports consultancy company set up in 2014 by Mechelle Law, is behind that scheme.

It will feature two conference rooms, 16 bedrooms, a cafe/restaurant and a self-catering semi-detached property at Ballynahinch Road.

Belfast Telegraph