31/03/2010

'Budget Build' Boosts Carrick Hotel Bid

A major building trade fillip is on the way for Co Antrim.

It has emerged that Carrickfergus Borough Council is to sell off a key publicly owned leisure and tourism asset to a private developer.

Councillors in the seaside town believe that going ahead with the project during the current economic dowturn will lead to substantial cost savings on construction work while the prices are "so competitive within this field".

Planning Service documents relate to the sale of Bentra Golf Course on foot of a Council application for outline planning permission to knock down Bentra clubhouse and build a new hotel, restaurant, bar and golf facilities.

Even though the premises have been recently refurbished, the local council has said a new hotel would be economically "very feasible" but a more detailed financial study will have to be undertaken by a private developer.

In July 2008 Carrick Council applied for outline planning permission to demolish Bentra clubhouse and build a new hotel, restaurant and bar and upgrade the Council owned facility from a nine hole to an 18 hole course.

In an economic overview of the planned hotel the Council said the global recession should not prevent the project from going ahead.
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The Council said that if the 24-room hotel was built during the economic downturn savings could be made on construction costs.

The Council made the claims in a document submitted to planners as part of the planning application for the hotel.

According to the Council's economic overview, the project remains viable even during a recession. The Council's economic assessment states: "This application is for outline permission and therefore a broad outline of viability is shown from tourist statistics and it would be for a developer to undertake a more detailed economic appraisal on such a project's viability before further commitment.

"Whitehead is seen as a good location for this project - with ease of access from ferryports and airports. The town has received a number of accolades for its floral displays, there are numerous other activities for the hotel guests and visitors to enjoy nearby - such as tennis, bowling, walking, sailing, boat trips."

The document continues: "Even with a small downturn or softening of the current market this project would still be economically sound as the current consensus is that recovery from recession will start in 2010/2011.

"It will mean substantial savings can be made on the construction works while prices are still very competitive within this field... We would consider that this project is very feasible."

(BMcC/GK)

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