Sweeney addresses Council

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Millionaire property developer Seymour Sweeney addressed members of Coleraine Borough Council on Monday night.

Mr Sweeney, a director of Seaport NI, claims that his family owns a section of the newly upgraded West Bay promenade in Portrush.

He told members attending the Special Meeting at Cloonavin that he ‘hoped to reach a resolution’ to the situation, by putting forward ‘a fair and just settlement’, which relates to land issues in Portballintrae.

Several times throughout his short presentation, Mr Sweeney highlighted the fact that any changes would have ‘no affect’ on public access at either the Portrush or Portballintrae sites.

He claimed that it would be residents of the Borough, the ratepayers, who would have to fund any litigation.

The proposals put forward by the property developer include the leasing of a section of land near Sweeney’s Winebar and the leasing of a section of land at Seaport Avenue to allow access to the jetty.

Mr Sweeney told those present that he and his family were prepared to pay any costs associated with coastal erosion at the site around the jetty.

He also requested an extension on a 15-year lease at lands on the east side of Seaport Avenue, and the leasing of one acre of land at Seaport Lodge to ‘enhance the setting of the listed building’ at the site.

His final request related to the removal of a covenant on a section of land on the Portballintrae seafront, to enable him to build a 21 bedroom boutique hotel.

Mr Sweeney told members that the ‘need existed for more hotels’ and reminded members of the possibilities of The Open Championship being hosted in the Borough in 2019.

He added that the land had already been ‘vested for tourism’ and that the hotel would create around 60 full and part time jobs, claiming that any decision by Council not to remove the covenant would be ‘perverse’ and ‘at odds’ with Stormont’s policies on ‘employment, growth and prosperity and tourism revenue’.

Throughout his presentation, Mr Sweeney pressed the fact that there would be ‘no loss of amenity to the public’ at either the Promenade in Portrush, or at the lands in Portballintrae, if Council agreed to the proposals.

Members of Portballintrae Residents’ Association were invited to attend the same meeting, however no one from the Association attended.

Samuel Turtle from Portballintrae Community Forum told the meeting that their position was ‘fully reserved’ and that the issues raised by the group had not been addressed.

Mr Turtle said that the Council had ‘deprived’ the group of the ‘opportunity to properly form an objection’ to Mr Sweeney’s proposals.

Members of the press and the public were then asked to leave the Chamber to allow members to discuss the proposals ‘in committee’.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Sweeney told The Times that as the matter was ‘ongoing’ he didn’t wish to make any further comment.