Plans for a new £6.6million hotel which is set to positively transform the economy and job prospects of seaside town, Portrush, are being considered by Causeway Coast and Glens Planning Committee on 19th December.
The 87-bedroom boutique hotel is being proposed on the site of the former Londonderry Hotel on Main Street / Atlantic Avenue in the town centre. The proposals will preserve and restore the grade B1 listed buildings fronting onto Main Street.
Once complete, the project will regenerate the area and will contribute an estimated £1.4million each year to the local economy, which will create 48 jobs during the construction phase, adding a further £4.8million to the Causeway Coast and Glens area and an additional 41 new jobs when the hotel opens. The project will attract a further 6,600 visitors to the North Coast per annum.
The plans have been submitted by Andras Hotels who, following feedback from the local community and since the building was listed to B1 standard, have dramatically revised the proposals to ensure that the hotel will reflect and contribute to the vibrancy of the town
The application has been recommended for refusal in part due to concerns raised by Historical Environment Division, but it is hoped that the Council have a change of heart. The application will see the important front terraces retained, refurbished and enhanced while the rear parts of the site will be redeveloped to provide new build construction which will host the majority of the bedrooms and public areas on ground floor.
A viability assessment was carried out on the existing building which found that it cannot be brought into economic use if fully retained.
The existing building hosts a licenced premise, the Atlantic Bar. This is due to be relocated into the listed former Northern Bank premises, opposite the hotel site on Main Street, which Andras Hotels are also planning to refurbish and restore.
Rajesh Rana, Director of Andras Hotels, said: ‘We are very excited about the prospect of refurbishing and restoring two important listed buildings on Main Street and helping to improve the economy of this wonderful seaside town. 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.”
“Our vision is for a beautiful, fully functional, boutique hotel that will bring this important site back to life as a hotel and will help to regenerate the Main Street and town centre area and we hope efforts made to revise the proposals and retain important heritage buildings in the design are rewarded.
‘Portrush and the North Coast is a major tourist destination that is dramatically underserved by modern hotel accommodation. The projects will serve the mid-market audience, which will be geared towards families, overseas visitors and the important golf market.
“If approved, we intend to start work on the hotel in 2019 and open our doors to visitors by the start of 2021.
‘Our proposals will retain the history of the site and important architectural features will be preserved along with artefacts, pictures and stories.
“We plan to restore this important listed building, and the proposals will pay homage to the site’s architectural heritage by preserving the buildings on Main Street and their important architectural details. The history of the site will also be kept alive through the incorporation of the historic names and features associated with the site into the establishment.”
“The proposals have been well received by local traders and business groups and we thank them for their support”.
Neville Moore, Managing Director of the Whitehouse Portrush commented: “I am delighted to support the revised proposals for the redevelopment of the Londonderry Hotel which has retained the important Main Street frontage.
“The proposal is strategically important for Portrush and should not just be considered on its own merits as it will also significantly enhance the economic activity of the wider town centre area.
Neville concluded, “The site has been semi-derelict for many years and the opportunity to see it returned to use as an 87-bedroom boutique hotel of this quality is very exciting.”
Causeway Chamber of Commerce commented : “Causeway Chamber supports the future growth plans of both new and established businesses within the region as it is vital to the economic future of the area.
“Tourism is a key driver for our economy particularly in the north coast. Ensuring adequate infrastructure is in place to support tourism and the major events is key to building on this potential.
Causeway Chamber concluded: “We understand that schemes need to be sympathetic to the beautiful surroundings and will continue to work with all our local and national stakeholders to drive economic prosperity for all.’
Andras Hotels was founded in Belfast in 1981 and since then has helped to shape and drive the tourism and hospitality landscape of Belfast.. It currently operates five internationally-branded hotels with 1,000 beds in in Belfast; Holiday Inn® Express, Holiday Inn®, Belfast City Centre, two Ibis Hotels, the Crowne Plaza and Hampton by Hilton Hotel.