Fresh calls have been made for Invest NI to back plans for a new hotel and spa complex in Ballycastle.
Images of the Whitepark Road development were released this week – and supporters say it has the potential to turn around the economic fortunes of the town and beyond.
The renewed call for Invest NI support has been prompted by news that the Bushmills Dunes golf resort at Runkerry could be delayed by the National Trust’s decision to mount legal action against it.
Independent Moyle Councillor Padraig McShane has described the Trust’s decision to seek a judicial review as ‘a direct attack on tourism and the people of Moyle’.
“The National Trust can not expect us all to believe that its primary concern is with protecting the UNESCO World Heritage status of the Giant’s Causeway.
“The argument would hold more water if they were not planning to re-develop their own hotel which is actually a lot closer to the site. A certain irony remains that will inform the general public of the ulterior motives of the National Trust,” he added.
Confirmation of the judicial review means that the Bushmills Dunes development could be delayed by up to two years.
With this in mind, Cllr McShane has said it is now time for Invest NI to look closely at the business plan for the Whitepark Road hotel.
He said: “Diamond Investments and McHenry Brothers have confirmed a joint venture to develop a 4 star, 120 bedroom hotel and spa that will transform not only the tourism sector locally but the fortunes of the town also.
“A very positive business case is about to be presented to Invest NI who must now realise this is their top priority in the tourism sector along the North Coast.
“It is not just the tourist who will benefit form the new complex. The local job market and the construction industry are both set to receive a significant boost.
“As many as 150 jobs will be created during construction and over 100 permanent jobs will be created should the building get Invest NI input.
The proposed £12million hotel will include function rooms, conference rooms, restaurants and leisure facilities, including a swimming pool and luxury spa.
Located opposite Drumawillan House on the Whitepark Road, the many of the proposed hotel rooms would enjoy views out over the North Antrim coast to Rathlin island and onwards to the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland.
Speaking earlier this year, Liam Ward of Ward Design and Managing Director of Diamond Investments said he hoped to create one of Northern Ireland’s greenest hotels with many energy saving features and green credentials.