The owners of a Larne guest house have spoken of their fear that the creation of a proposed supported living facility on their doorstep could drive them out of business.
Ivy Chalmers and her husband Siebe Wynberg have operated Derrin Guest House on Princes Gardens for the past ten years, welcoming visitors from as far afield as Sudan, Columbia, Cuba and Australia.
They are concerned their livelihood could be jeopardised by plans to turn a vacant property adjacent to theirs into a scheme catering for 16-21-year-olds who have left care.
As revealed in last week’s Larne Times, Triangle Housing Association has lodged an application with the Planning Service that would see the demolition of the former children’s home at 4 Princes Gardens, to be replaced with a two-storey development consisting of 12 one-bedroom apartments.
Residents of the street have joined forces to stand against the proposal, citing fears that the otherwise quiet residential street will be subjected to noise and anti-social behaviour.
Ivy claimed this week that the development would be a disaster for her thriving business.
She added: “My husband and I took over the business ten years ago and have poured our life savings into it. We cater for about 100 people a week in the high season, and we contribute to the local economy by recommending places for our lodgers to eat, drink and shop in the borough.”
Ivy said Derrin Guest House is listed on the travel website Trip Advisor, which allows people to rate their stay at participating hostelries for other potential guests to view.
She explained: “The majority of reviews we receive online are usually very positive, but this is unlikely to continue if the street is going to be plagued by noisy youths and anti-social behaviour.
“We had problems in the past when the children’s home was open, as young people would loiter in the street and sometimes hide in our driveway trying to sneak into the facility.
“Virtually the whole street has come out fighting against this proposal and I would urge anyone else who feels strongly about the issue to make their voices heard by contacting the Planning Service. In Monopoly terms, Princes Gardens is the Park Lane of Larne; it is one of the town’s assets and we want to keep it that way.”