Council urged to give £6.6m Portrush hotel planning permission
Supporters of a new £6.6m, 87-bed hotel in Portrush have said they hope to overturn the "disappointing" recommendation to refuse the construction.
UUP Alderman Norman Hillis said Andras Hotels' proposal, which will be considered tomorrow, would be a "game changer" for the area with the potential to boost the economy and add vibrancy to a building that has "lain semi-derelict for years".
However, the development at the former Londonderry Hotel - a Grade B listed building facing Main Street - has been recommended for refusal by Causeway Coast and Glens Council. The Historic Environment Division said it had concerns that demolition could harm the "historical understanding" of the site and the "historic streetscape character" of the town centre.
But Mr Hillis said: "Quite frankly this hotel is a major economic driver for the area and I'm hoping to get this recommendation overturned... we all want to protect buildings and in this case the frontage will be saved and help regenerate the area but we also have a chance to bring this building back to use."
The boutique hotel proposed for Main Street/Atlantic Avenue is expected to contribute £1.4m to the economy every year, creating 48 jobs during construction and 41 roles on opening. It was originally hoped it would be ready for The Open golf tournament taking place in Portrush next year.
Andras House said it had "dramatically revised" its original plans after the building received a graded status during the application process. Its director, Rajesh Rana, said he is hoping planning officials will "have a change of heart" at the upcoming meeting.
"We hope councillors will recognise the tourism benefit and economic investment we are seeking to deliver for the town and wider area and approve the application," he said.
Mr Rana added that, if approved, the site would go live in 2019 and be completed by 2021.
He said that the development would pay "homage to the site's architectural heritage" and it had been "well received" by businesses.
Cllr Hillis added: "On one hand we have the Department of the Communities putting £17.5m into the area to regenerate it ahead of The Open, yet another department is pushing in another direction. The majority would sooner see a hotel go up in this site for job creation and what it will bring to the street. What's the point in having events like The Open if we can't put the people up?"
The Causeway Chamber of Commerce said the development of the hotel would ensure "adequate infrastructure is in place to support tourism and major events".