Environment Minister Alex Attwood has granted planning permission for the extension of Ballygally Castle Hotel.
This approval will see an expansion of the lobby area and an additional six bedrooms added to the front of the hotel which is located on a key tourist route on the Antrim Coast road. This will result in a 72-bedroom hotel and will allow the bedrooms to be remodeled to current standards.
Mr Attwood said: “This extension is good news for boosting tourism in the Antrim Coast area. It also demonstrates my Department’s commitment to responding positively to tourist related proposals but only when they balance the enhancement and development of key tourist assets with the protection of our built heritage.
“This extension was initially set for refusal due to concerns over the Grade A listed 17th century tower house which is the only surviving structure of its type in Northern Ireland. However, after discussions and amendments to the proposal this can now proceed in a way that preserves the integrity of the tower. This means the hotel can develop in a way that protects jobs and boosts tourism but that will secure the upkeep of this tower which is so integral to the character and history of this building.
“I firmly believe that our built and natural heritage will be the biggest part of future increases in tourist numbers and spend. Six of the top ten visitor attractions are our built and natural heritage. This approval demonstrates how we can grow our economy and the tourism sector but in a way that cherishes and preserves our rich heritage.”
The Department consulted with Larne Council on October 8 on its opinion to approve this application.
East Antrim MLA Alastair Ross has welcomed the announcement,
“This is obviously great news for the hotel, and indeed for efforts in increasing the visitor numbers to the area. The Coast Road is one of the most spectacular stretches anywhere in Europe.
“It is important for our tourism industry that all Executive eepartments work together in ensuring that we can offer a great experience for tourists, and the planning process clearly has a key role in that.”