Plans for a new hotel development in Ballymena could provide a major boost for tourism in the area, it has been claimed.
The proposed 65-bedroom hotel, on the Crankill Road on the outskirts of the Co Antrim town, would create up to 30 jobs and feature a new restaurant and bar.
The applicant, Kilrea-based real estate firm Chic Limited, is also seeking permission for a reception lobby, food preparation kitchen, staff accommodation, office space, ancillary accommodation and associated car parking and landscaping.
The development – with a total floor area of 4,146m2 – would be located close to an Applegreen service station, which was built by Chic Ltd on the site of the former roadside pub the Fort Royal Inn.
The existing one hectare site is currently used for lorry parking and is also partially a green field site.
Chic Ltd estimates there would be around 210 people attending the hotel on a daily basis, excluding the 30 staff.
The company also predicts there would be in the region of 100 vehicles visiting the premises each day.
A noise impact assessment concluded that the noise impact from the proposed facilities could be “controlled to fall below existing background noise levels near the site and thus minimal noise impact will occur”.
Welcoming the plan, Eugene Reid, incoming chairman of the Ballymena Chamber of Commerce said it could “further enhance the already excellent hotel offerings” in the Ballymena area.
Mr Reid, who is also an SDLP councillor, said: “This is a prime location, on the main route to the north coast, and it has the potential to be very successful.”
TUV Councillor Timothy Gaston welcomed the application in principle, adding that if approved it could have “fantastic potential for further growth and expansion of our tourism offering”.
He added: “Tourism is firmly on the up in Mid and East Antrim and private sector investment in our hospitality sector has to be welcomed as we continue to attract visitors from around the world.”