Trust ‘rejected’ higher bids for site earmarked for youth hostel

Siebe Wynberg and Ivy Chalmers from the Derrin Guest House in Princess Gardens. INLT 08-016-PSB
Siebe Wynberg and Ivy Chalmers from the Derrin Guest House in Princess Gardens. INLT 08-016-PSB

The Northern Trust has been accused of ignoring residents’ wishes by failing to accept private bids for a potential supported living development.

Derrin Guest House owner Ivy Chalmers made the comments over Triangle Housing’s proposed redevelopment of a vacant Princes Gardens property into a 12-bedroom supported living facility for young people who have left care.

The property, owned by the trust, is on the market at £169,950, with Triangle’s bid sitting at £107,000. Two private bids of £150,000 and £115,000 were not accepted by the Northern Trust, and have since been withdrawn.

Ivy told The Times: “The private buyer who would have taken the building as a family home would have been perfect as the streetscape wouldn’t have changed. It’s disappointing, and there’s no guarantee Triangle’s scheme will be approved.”

She fears she will have to close her business if Triangle’s plans are approved, and says her objections are based on potential anti-social behaviour and damage to the area’s character.

She added: “Princess Gardens is a one-way street, there aren’t many houses and it’s very quiet. Any youths that hang around will be noticed. They plan to knock down a period home, cut down trees and put up a six-foot fence.”

Ivy believes that the development would negatively affect the local economy and families. She explained: “We bring thousands of people to Larne who shop, eat and drink here. We could get bad reviews because of loitering and crime. There is an existing Simon Community on Circular Road and there could be crossover.”

Ms Chalmers cited freedom of information figures she obtained from the PSNI, which she claims. show that over the past two years, police have visited a hostel in a Co Down town 113 times.

A Northern Trust spokesperson said: “The application is part of a regional strategy to improve outcomes for young people leaving care to provide them with appropriate accommodation and enhancement of education and employment opportunities.

She added: “The Northern Trust cannot comment in regard to monetary values as it is a confidential and commercially sensitive matter.

“This is not a Northern Trust application. If the application is granted by the Council, Triangle will be the managing agent and the trust will fund the care element.”

Asked if Triangle was the trust’s preferred bidder, the spokesperson said: “The trust cannot comment in regard to the bidding process as it is a confidential and commercially sensitive matter.”

We understand the Triangle application is to go before Larne Borough Council for comment this week.