Restaurant plan for ex-army base

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ONE of Coleraine’s landmark buildings is in line for a major revamp, The Times can exclusively reveal this week.

Laurel Hill House, the former UDR base, which overlooks the River Bann, could become a restaurant if planners give the application the go ahead.

Back in 2012 a private buyer bought the house and the adjoining land at a public auction in London.

Plans have now been submitted to change the use of the ground floor of the stunning 18th century building with picturesque views of the River Bann.

Brendan Johns of Johns Cassidy and Company Planning Consultants who are behind the application told The Times that the application, if passed, will bring the site ‘back to life.’

Laurel Hill House is a grade B listed building which sits on a 4.05 acre site.

In the grounds, a granary is also listed.

Many of trees on the site are also protected by Tree Prevention Orders.

The house itself was build in the 1800s and was designed by Charles Lanyon, who designed many of Northern Ireland’s iconic buildings.

Taken over by the Minisitry of Defence in the 1970’s, Laurel Hill House remained as a military base until its closure ten years ago.

The Laurel Hill application proposes to change the use of the building into an upmarket restaurant which could seat around 50 people with a small function room.

Plans have already been submitted to the DoE, however Mr Johns said that it could be Autumn before a decision is made on the application.

“We had discussions with the owners and we feel that this is the best way forward for the site,” said Mr Johns.

“It is situated in lovely grounds with great views across the River Bann.

“This Restaurant project aims to maintain and enhance the historic built environment in the public interest.

“If we are successful, this application will bring back into active use a significant building of historic and architectural merit which may otherwise have had to be abandoned.”