Belfast Telegraph

Huge housing scheme planned beside Bushmills distillery by man fighting Cerberus

Entrepreneur plans huge apartment development

By John Mulgrew

A Belfast businessman embroiled in a legal battle with US vulture fund Cerberus is building a massive multi-million pound housing development close to the world famous Bushmills distillery, it can be revealed.

Gareth Graham has been locked in a court fight to try and win back control of some of his companies after loans linked to the firms were transferred over to the Republic's bad bank, Nama.

But outside the courtroom it appears to be business as usual, as a company run by the 44-year-old, Bushview Developments, is now behind the 34-apartment housing project in the Co Antrim village, famed for its whiskey.

And it's located just metres from the Bushmills plant.

The development, which sits beside the River Bush, will include 34 apartments - a mixture of two and three bedrooms - alongside two retail units and parking facilities.

The bulk of the development will be based on unused land, while there also be renovation and refurbishment of a listed building which looks on to Main Street.

A spokesman for Mr Graham told the Belfast Telegraph: "The development in Bushmills will be a welcome addition to the residential property market in that area.

"We have cleared what was previously a derelict site and we intend to build approximately 30 high quality apartment units for which we believe there will be a high demand.

He added: "Our plans have been well received by local representatives and we hope to get planning permission in the months ahead."

The housing development has been designed by Belfast firm Like Architects.

Initial plans for a smaller development in the area, made up of 19 apartments, was given planning approval back in 2010.

But there has been no significant progress on the development until now.

Meanwhile, a date for Mr Graham's ongoing court battle against Cerberus has now been pushed back until May next year.

However, the businessman's legal battle with the US investment fund may now go to mediation, the High Court heard in December.

Mr Graham is challenging Cerberus' right to put them into administration, claiming that his businesses were financially strong and that they never missed a repayment.

Back in September, he also appeared in front of a Stormont committee investigating the sale of Nama's Northern Ireland loan book.

He told the committee he had recorded phone calls which allegedly show an "ingrained culture of inappropriate and possibly illegal conduct" across the worlds of politics, banking, law and accountancy.

In 2014, Cerberus snapped up Nama's entire Northern Ireland portfolio, named Project Eagle, in a deal which was worth more than £1bn.

Belfast Telegraph