Boost for Ballymena as hotels expand
The market town of Ballymena looks set to receive a major boost with news that three of its hotels have instigated major plans for expansion.
The development proposals confirm a prediction made by the NI Hotels Federation last autumn, when it said that the current unprecedented growth of the sector in Greater Belfast would begin to be felt in other towns and cities around the country.
The Leighinmohr House Hotel on the outskirts of Ballymena, now owned by property developers Sam Morrison and Adrian Fullan, has just submitted plans for a 12-bedroom extension and kitchen upgrade at its premises in leafy Leighinmohr Avenue, just off the up-market Galgorm Road.
The hotel, which was briefly under the control of Bill Wolsey’s Beannchor Group in 2010, was purchased by Mr Morrison and Mr Fullan in 2013.
A spokesperson said recently that the proposed extension was necessary to cater for growing levels of business at the well-established venue.
In February this year, planners at Mid and East Antrim Borough Council also approved ambitious proposals submitted by Galgorm Resort & Spa for a 64-bedroom extension to its already extensive facilities near Cullybackey.
The detailed plans include the addition of a rooftop pool and spa, an external spa garden and an executive lounge, all linked to the existing hotel building.
Also in February, Ballymena planners gave the green light to a £5m plan for large-scale development at the family-owned Tullyglass House Hotel in the north of the town.
LCN reported in detail on the Tullyglass proposals when they were unveiled just over a year ago. They will see a four-storey annex added to the front of the existing building. The extension will house a range of new amenities, including a tree-top spa, a gym, juice bar, a coffee and tea bar and hair and beauty facilities along with 45 new guest rooms.
At that time, it was estimated that the new development would create up to 80 new jobs for the town.
News of all three developments will be welcomed in the town which has suffered significant job losses in recent years with the closure of long-standing manufacturing operations by Michelin and Japan Tobacco International.
Speaking to LCN this month, the newly-appointed president of Ballymena Chamber of Commerce, Cllr. Robin Cherry, said that he believed that the town had “finally turned a corner”:
“I’m absolutely delighted,” Mr Cherry told this magazine. “I am very happy that people are prepared to invest in these developments and show that Ballymena has a future. Because in the past, there have been disappointments and everyone knows that, but things are improving at last and now there is optimism here.”
Referring to a recently revealed scheme that will see Michelin’s vacant factory on the Broughshane Road converted into a business park, Mr Cherry said that this and other schemes which the borough council hoped to introduce would bring more employment to the town in the future:
“Hopefully, we have now turned a corner,” he added.
Our picture shows The Leighinmohr House Hotel, which is just one of three hotels in Ballymena currently planning large-scale expansions.