Belfast Telegraph

Developers vow to fight on despite setback for £20m hotel in Portstewart

Legal challenge: Jim Allister
Legal challenge: Jim Allister
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

Developers behind a new £20m hotel and leisure resort on the north coast say they are not giving up on the project after a judge threw their planning application out.

Last week, a High Court judge quashed plans for a luxury hotel complex in Portstewart, which would have created more than 100 hotel jobs.

Lord Justice McCloskey had already ruled that Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council's decision to approve the Merrow Hotel and Spa's four-star complex near Portstewart was procedurally unfair.

His final order, in a legal challenge by TUV leader Jim Allister, means the planning application must be reconsidered in accordance with the law.

Planning permission had been granted by the council in March last year.

However construction was delayed as the process was challenged by objectors just a few days short of the three-month deadline in June last year.

The plans were rejected for a second time last week.

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Speaking on behalf of the Merrow Hotel and Spa team, Vivienne Gilholm yesterday expressed disappointment at the judgment but stressed that the firm is "working tirelessly" to bring the project to life and would not be put off by delays.

"Throughout the High Court proceedings, we've been bolstered by the number of messages of encouragement received from local residents, businesses and organisations, pressing us to remain true to our vision and to create not only a luxurious facility that they can access but a venue that will provide vital employment for over 100 people. We are truly grateful for their support," she said.

"There are of course those who said, 'Just invest the £20m somewhere else, and create the jobs somewhere else', but we truly believe in what we are doing.

"Our team is committed to bringing economic benefits to the local community.

"I can assure you it is not our intention to give up."

Belfast Telegraph