Belfast Telegraph

400 objections to luxury hotel resort plan in Northern Ireland

By Margaret Canning

A luxury hotel proposed for Northern Ireland has attracted nearly 400 objections from community groups and residents, it has emerged.

Real estate investment company ARC, which is based in Austin, Texas, has formed a Northern Ireland subsidiary to file for planning permission for the Dunluce Resort, a 120-bedroomed hotel in Portrush.

But community groups are objecting to the proposals in the application, which was filed with the Causeway council in December.

Among the objections filed, during a consultation which closed on March 16, are claims that the hotel "looks too stark and modern and is not in keeping with the surrounding area".

Another objector stated that it's a "fantastic situation for a prestige development, but perhaps the design should be more in keeping with such a prime site".

Community group, Future North Coast, has displayed a photomontage of what it claims the hotel would look like juxtaposed with the coastal landscape.

On its Facebook page, it states: "The Future North Coast is concerned about the proposed Dunluce Road Hotel & Second Homes development. FNC is passionate about preserving the north coast and we strongly agree with the need for a high-class hotel in this area, but it must be in keeping with the natural beauty of the iconic Causeway Coast. We strongly advocate preserving the coast for future generations."

And Royal Portrush Golf Club - which will host golf championship, The Open, in 2019 - has also objected to the proposals, stating that it's unhappy with features, including its "design, siting and visual impact".

However, it's understood the developers maintain that they have received support from "weighty" sources, including the R&A, which is the organiser of The Open. But it's unlikely that the hotel would be ready in time for next summer's Open.

The developers have said that the site presents the largest single private sector investment in the area, and will plough more than £65m into the area.

When opened, they have said it will create 300 full and part-time jobs, and another 200 jobs over the construction period.

"It's bringing much-needed quality accommodation, which the area has been crying out for," a spokeswoman for the developers said.

Speaking last year when the plans were first announced, development architect, Richard Hunter, said: "This project has unbelievable potential to capture and retain high-spending visitors to Royal Portrush, and the other links courses on the north coast". The site covers an area of 10 acres of land between the Ballymacrea Road and Dunluce Road, and looks out across the golf course towards the Giant's Causeway. ARC is headed up by Gavin Boyd, a businessman originally from Kilrea, Co Londonderry, and his wife, Minka, who is from Austin, Texas.

Portrush and the surrounding area is planning a series of improvements in time for The Open. Shops in Portrush are to be given a £500,000 facelift.

Traders in the resort can apply for a grant of up to £5,000 to improve properties as part of the scheme, which is funded by the Department for Communities (DfC).

The scheme is part of a £17m regeneration programme that includes a new train station and public realm works already under way in the town. DfC regional development office deputy director, William Cameron, said the scheme "represents a great opportunity for local businesses to improve the appearance of their premises. It will help to ensure the town of Portrush is looking its very best in advance of The Open's return in 2019".

Belfast Telegraph

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