An application to build a 100-bed luxury hotel in the foothills of the Mourne Mountains looks to have succeeded.
Planning officials at Newry, Mourne and Down District Council appear to have performed a U-turn on Miceal Tinnelly’s proposal for the four-star Seven Hills Hotel and Spa in Rostrevor.
The developer has valued the project on the village’s Greenpark Road at £14m. It includes a spa, gym, restaurant, conference facilities and two lounge bars.
Mr Tinnelly’s proposal for a 100-bed hotel on the site dates back to 2008, but he only managed to succeed in achieving permission for a cut-size version of the project.
He was given the green light for a 50-bed resort in 2011, but approval for the smaller hotel has now lapsed.
Mr Tinnelly, who had a background as a coal merchant before moving into construction, said the 100 bedrooms are needed to make the venture financially viable.
The developer previously claimed that the Rostrevor area “is crying out for a hotel”.
Last year it looked like a new effort to build the hotel was doomed to failure, after planning officials once again signalled their intention to refuse the larger project.
That changed on Wednesday, when a fresh report by Newry, Mourne and Down planners offered a thumbs-up.
Their recommendation to approve outline planning permission, subject to conditions, is set to go before the local authority’s planning committee later this month.
Much of the concern over the project centres on its surroundings. The 35-acre site currently houses an equestrian centre, including a grazing area and a disused sand arena with floodlights.
It has been suggested that the equestrian centre will be relocated within the site, however, it does not currently feature in the present version of the planning application.
Parts of the heavily wooded site have also been levelled by quarrying for rock.
However, it’s understood that the spectacular views offered over Carlingford Lough have inspired the plans.
It also falls within the Mournes and Slieve Croob area of outstanding natural beauty and lies next to Rostrevor House Demesne.
The original application had been accompanied by an environmental statement for a 100-bedroom hotel.
Officials have determined that the new phase of the application did not require a new statement.
The Historic Environment Division (HED) had expressed concerns over the potential impact on nearby listed buildings and historic parks. The agency now says the plan is acceptable subject to some conditions.
A series of other agencies have by and large accepted the basis of the project, albeit with conditions in some cases.
Ultimately, planning officials said given the new information received in respect of the proposal, and the consultation with HED, it is now content to recommended approval to the planning committee.