The Minister for the Environment has confirmed that a new hotel development in Ballycastle will not have to go through the full planning process again.
There had been fears it would be subject to re-evaluation on the insistence of the local planning office, after the plans were altered to include a further 16 bedrooms. Confirmation that this would not be the case came in the form of a letter to Independent Councillor Padraig McShane.
He had written to the the Minister objecting to the need for a new planning application.
In response, Minister Attwood said:
“I acknowledge the site has the benefit of a live planning approval and accordingly do not consider the alterations to the proposed scheme to be material within the overall scheme.
“The submission of a formal planning application is therefore not necessary.”
Welcoming the Minister’s input, Councillor Mc Shane said:”Time is of the essence and I welcome the intervention of the Minister following my letter.
“The entire project is with Invest NI who has before them a comprehensive and extensive Business case for several months now. “Invest NI must match their past affirmation to support the tourist sector. A commitment to job creation in the Ballycastle area was a past promise by the body who offered no other major source of employment to the area. “If the private sector is showing major commitment, then Invest NI must be prepared to match it.”
Job creationWhen asked for more details on job creation, Councillor McShane said:
“To service a hotel of this size will require a minimum staff compliment of 90 people. “In addition the hard pressed building sector could see many local jobs created for the duration of the construction phase.
“But it is the by-product of having both The Marine Hotel and the Whitepark Hotel in operation that will have a major effect on the region.
“If we create a destination from our natural tourism product locally, and Ballycastle and the Glens become that destination, not only will other accommodation providers reap significant benefits across the sector, the derivative will also be additional jobs.
“If the Marine and Whitepark hotels were to open tomorrow, an additional 125 wage packets could be generated in the area. “Compounding those figures, additional footfall in the locality plus additional spend from visitors creates a superior economy for the region. It is this simple scale of economy that Invest NI must be pressed on.