Sandy Bay is ‘only hope’ for marina – committee

SANDY Bay is the only realistic location for the development of marina facilities in the borough, according to a majority on Larne Borough Council.

Co Down based-consultancy firm Scott Wilson was tasked with carrying out a feasibility study into the potential for marina and watersports provision in the area, and the final draft of the report was handed to elected members this week.

The 98-page document identifies a number of possible sites for marina development, including Curran Point, Magheramorne, Howden’s Quay, Sandy Bay and a potential extension at Glenarm.

However, it adds that a marina in the borough “may not be viable at the present time” for a number of reasons, such as suppressed demand for boat berths and the potential to displace boats from other marinas in the Province rather than growing the market.

At Monday’s meeting of the development committee, Ald Roy Beggs said: “The report identified a number of potential locations for marine leisure facilities in the borough, but the only interest that has been consistently demonstrated over the past 10 or 15 years in developing a marina has been at Sandy Bay.

“There is no prospect of a marina at Curran Point or Howden’s Quay, and I understand that Lafarge will not be putting forward any planning application for a development at Magheramorne. Any further extension at Glenarm would be at a cost to ratepayers.

“That leaves us with us with Sandy Bay being identified as the only realistic possibility for marina facilities in this borough, which we should have had 30 years ago. I propose that we thank Scott Wilson for their report and recognise that our only hope is to approve and support a marina development at Sandy Bay,” Ald Beggs added.

The proposal was accepted on a majority vote.

Mayor Councillor Bobby McKee felt that many of the locations highlighted by the consultants were lacking in amenities. “Glenarm has a marina, but there is nothing else in the village to attract boat owners. The same can be said for Magheramorne and Howden’s Quay – you can’t even get a cup of coffee in these places,” he added.

It was also revealed at Monday’s meeting that the council has received correspondence from Larne Marina Company (LMC) seeking an opportunity to address members regarding its proposed marina facility adjacent to Larne Promenade.

In his letter, applicant Bill Liddle stated: “We are concerned that some councillors have not yet had an opportunity to peruse the proposal and indeed it is alleged that misunderstanding on certain aspects exists with others.

“We feel that in consideration of the scale and importance of this project for the town’s development, it is essential that all parties are fully informed.”

It was agreed that the applicant would be invited to make a presentation to the council at the earliest available opportunity.

LMC first applied for a marina at Sandy Bay in 1989. The Article 31 application is at appeal and has been opposed throughout by objectors in Larne Promenade Action Group. Planners rejected an amended plan.ected