An old lifeboat shelter in Northern Ireland will be turned into a licensed restaurant after plans were approved by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.
The approval of the Portrush application, which was lodged by the council itself, followings warnings from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) that the building is under threat from flooding.
Marine and Fisheries officials at DAERA said they did not consider the scheme appropriate and would not be prepared to support installation of coastal protection measures if the restaurant plan goes ahead.
And Portrush Building Preservation Trust has also hit out at the decision to convert the B2 listed building into a restaurant. They've argued that another eaterie is not needed as there are already 15 restaurants, 15 cafes, two pizza outlets and four other fast food outlets in the area.
The council has not responded to a query about the projected cost of the project or whether it plans to renovate the building itself and lease it out, or sell it with the planning permission in place.
Charity secretary John McNally accused the cash-strapped council of pressing ahead with the plans in an ill-advised attempt to generate revenue.
It emerged in February that the council was more than £68m in debt, forcing it to agree an inflation-busting rate increase of 7.65% and cut a range of services and tourism events.
The lifeboat shelter at Landsdowne in the town was built around 120 years ago and is currently empty.
Mr McNally said: "We're disappointed at the decision, we're a not-for-profit organisation and we submitted a proposal to develop the building into a community, maritime heritage and water sports centre, and coffee shop, at no cost to the council.
"We were proposing using grants to carry out the work, which would allow the use of the building to remain true to the Landsdowne masterplan."
Mr McNally said it was hoped the building would subsequently be used by a variety of watersports' groups, as well as helping to encourage more people into the area with the development of Portandhu Harbour.
He also said a maritime centre would be at less risk from storms than the proposed restaurant due to the glass proposed for the eaterie. It will also have a roof terrace, surrounded by glass balustrading.
When making the decision to approve the plan, the council took into consideration that the Historic Environment Division had "no objections to the proposed change of use". A council spokesman said the planning department had presented an application for provision of a single storey side extension to existing vacant building, including internal refurbishment for the change of use to a licensed restaurant with a recommendation to approve. This was accompanied by a recommendation to grant consent for an associated application for Listed Building Consent. "At the meeting the Planning Committee resolved to approve both applications," he added.
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