Hearing to be held about former Strand Hotel site

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THE first ever hearing by the Planning Appeal Commission into a proposed completion order will be held in Portstewart later this year.

Coleraine Council were informed of the decision by the Commission in a letter received on February 14th in relation to the site of the former Stand Hotel at Strand Road Portstewart.

The Department of the Environment served notice on Mr Norman Menary of NM Developments, who were granted planning permission on the site in 1998, of its intention to make a completion order under Article 37 of the Planning Order.

Mr Menary has requested a hearing before the commission, which will be conducted by Commissioner M Jones.

Miss Yvonne Adgey of the Planning Appeal Commission invited council to become involved in the proceedings, which will take place at 10am on Wednesday 8 May in Portstewart Town Hall.

Councillor David McClarty welcomed the news at last week’s Planning Committee meeting and proposed council become involved in the hearing.

“This news has been long overdue regarding this site and I’m sure there will be a lot of people dancing with joy when they find out,” he said.

Councillors unanimously agreed to proceed with their own submission for the hearing.

Council now has until April 12th to submit their own written evidence on the case.

As this is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland there are no published procedures for such hearings, but the Commission will follow the procedures similar to those which they use into hearings for major planning applications.

The hearing is described as being ‘an informal, round-table discussion on the main issues and matters requiring further investigation’.

Before it closes the Commissioner, Ms M Jones, will give all parties an opportunity for formal questioning or submissions to address any matters not covered in the discussion.

Following the hearing the Commissioner will prepare a report for the Department, which they will be required to consider.

There have been a number of successful applications for development on the site of the former hotel, which closed its doors in the late 80’s. An application by M and M Developments, proposing the erection of a public house and wine bar to the rear of the site, was approved on April 16, 1992.

An application in the same name was approved on May 7, 1992. This was for the erection of a three to four storey apartment block of 38 units. A further application, approved on December 18, 1998, was in the name of NM Developments and granted the application for the erection of a 4 to 4.5 storey apartment block, comprising 46 units.

Work on the site began years ago, but after foundations and base work were completed, construction stopped.

A start had been made on the ground floor construction but it has lain dormant, in its present state, ever since.