10/04/2008

Jobs Boost As Thunderdome Hotel Approved

Despite ongoing problems with anti-social behaviour in the area, Glengormley is to benefit from a £3 million hotel complex - creating as many as 50 new jobs in the process.

The existing Thunderdome Café on the Antrim Road will expand to facilitate the creation of a hotel and conference centre now that the project has been approved by planners this week.

The successful application by local businessman, Frank McNeill, will involve the construction of a major extension at the popular location.

However, approval for the Farrier Court scheme has been a long time in coming, with plans submitted to the planning service in November 2006 later delayed by the Road Service concerns over the dearth of dedicated car parking.

In addition, there are well-documented and on-going problems in the immediate vicinity with groups of rowdy youths gathering - and often fighting each other - usually on a sectarian basis.

On one occasion, Mr McNeill even intervened himself to prevent further injury as youths battled outside his premises.

However, he will be hoping to put that behind him now that Newtownabbey Council's Planning and Consultation Committee, members heard that full planning permission has been granted for the erection of an extension and alterations to the existing licensed restaurant and facilities, to form a new hotel with 44 bedrooms and function, conference, bar, and management accommodation.

Around 40 or 50 new jobs will also be created, taking the total to over 100, full and part time.

Mr McNeill, who has already invested over £3 million in his Thunderdome family restaurant, said he was delighted with this news: "It has taken a long time, but I am absolutely delighted we now have the approval.

It is believed that the new hotel development will involve the construction of an additional two floors on top of the existing restaurant to provide a three star plus facility that will be able to cater for weddings, conferences and private functions.

Antrim Line Alliance Councillor Tom Campbell welcomed the granting of planning permission for the hotel.

"This is good news for Glengormley. Frank McNeill deserves considerable praise for his commitment to this area and the ambition behind his plans.

"I believe that this hotel scheme will be considered a wise investment following on from the popularity of the restaurant. I know that it will be widely welcomed in the area in terms of its impact in bringing new jobs and in improving the centre of Glengormley and its existing retail units.

(BMcC)

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