RESIDENTS of Portballintrae have raised their concerns about parking in the seaside village after a proposed boutique hotel was approved by the Planning Service.
The Portballintrae Residents Association put forward their concerns to Coleraine Council during a Planning Committee meeting last week.
Mrs Joyce Ferder-Rankin, Vice Chair of Portballintrae Residents’ Association, told council the construction of the 21-bedroom hotel on the site of an overflow car park would further stretch the village’s limited parking spaces.
“We have two main issues with the proposal - the siting and parking,” said Mrs Ferder-Rankin.
“The site which has been approved, we feel, is the worst possible site in the village. The front of the hotel goes over a permissive right of way to the beach, which is the only disabled access to the beach at present.
“And if the hotel is built on this site, which has been leased by the applicant from Coleraine Council for 150 years as an overflow car park for the wine bar next door, it will only exacerbate the village’s notorious parking problems.
“There is also no room for delivery lorries to manouvre on to this site.
“If this application goes ahead in its current form then there will be bigger problems in the long term.”
The Residents’ Association told council they are all for the construction of a new hotel in the village and pointed to several other sites which they feel are more suitable.
“We welcome economic development and we are all for a hotel in the village,” continued Mrs Ferder-Rankin.
“We used to have three hotels now we only have one and since 1999 we have lost 94 jobs from the village. So we want this to work and as I said we are fully behind the construction of a hotel, but it has to be in the right location for everyone.
“For us the wine bar would be a better location as you have the room to expand it and you would still have the overflow car park to utilise for parking.
“There is also Sea Port Lodge, which would make a stunning hotel and would be suitable for Heritage Lottery grants.We would fully support applications at these two sites as we feel they would offer a more workable, viable project which is best for everyone.
“This has nothing to do with the applicant and we are definitely not against development, we are just against it at this site.”
In his presentation the applicant, Mr Seymour Sweeney, told council, that it was in fact him who had turned the land into a car park and access onto Bayhead Road and the foreshore as a result of planning permission being granted on the leased ground in 1992.
“This was never a car park it was a deep gorge through which a water course ran to the ocean,” said Mr Sweeney.
“The site was infilled, the water course culverted, the site was levelled to provide a car parkand access provided.
“We lease and control the land and this is only a car park with my permission. It is not a public right of way either.”
Mr Sweeney said the project would bring many direct and indirect benefits.
“The economic benefits flowing to the general area as a result of the proposed hotel development are both direct and indirect,” he said.
“The primary direct benefits will flow from the creation of jobs in both the construction and operation phases and the injection of income into the local economy.
“Contribution to the economy from the construction phase would be to the order of £3m with a further contribution of £1.25m annually from employment.
“Potential from an expanded visitor base would be to the order of £1m annually. A total of £2.23m could also be injected into the local economy annaully as a result of the hotel’s operation.”
Councillor Adrian McQuillan proposed council accept the recommendation by the planners to approved the planning application.
However, Alderman Maura Hickey proposed an amendment calling for an office meeting. Cllr David Harding seconded the amendment.
A vote was taken and the amendment was carried with 12 voting in favour and three against.