The R and A, organisers of The Open has been granted planning approval for a number of alterations to begin at Royal Portrush.
The application came before Tuesday night’s meeting of Coleraine Borough Council’s planning committee. The move has sparked rumours that the tournament could return to the area sooner than 2019.
Adjustments to holes, a new plant machinery compound, extension to existing service road networks and new service road accesses have been included in the application. Work at the course will include alterations for broadcasting and a tented hospitality village.
There were four objections to the application, all from the one household.
Members attending last Tuesday’s meeting welcomed the application. Senior Planning Officer, Shane Matthews told the meeting that the objections were in relation to the temporary road accesses, with fears that they would become lay-bys after the work was completed.
Mr Matthews pointed out the ‘importance’ of the application to the Borough and told members that any delay in the application would mean a delay in the work being able to start. Alliance councillor Barney Fitzpatrick asked for an office meeting on behalf of the objector.
Declaring an interest, Royal Portrush member, Independent councillor David Harding was concerned about delaying the application.
“We would be giving out the wrong message. This is one of the biggest things ever to come to Northern Ireland - we need to give the message to the R and A that we open to them. Hopefully we can find another way round this,” he said.
Mayor, councillor George Duddy agreed.
“We have been told that the accesses will be returned after the competition, therefore there is no concern.
“I agree that we would be sending out the wrong message. The First Minister and the Deputy First Minister have been down supporting this, the new Council has a remit to encourage tourism.
“Any delay and we will be sending out the wrong message for Northern Ireland PLC,” said Mayor Duddy.
Councillor Harding agreed to organise a meeting between the objector and the Golf Club in a bid to sort out issues.
This was agreed by all members.