Construction work could begin as early as next year on a new 65-bedroom budget hotel on the A26 Crankill Road near Ballymena.
The development would mean up to 30 new jobs for the area.
Planning permission is currently being sought for the project by well-known mid-Antrim retailer and property developer, Kenny Bradley, who owns the one-hectare site between Ballymena and Ballymoney on which the hotel would be built.
Speaking to LCN this month, Mr Bradley said that he thought the location was ‘the perfect spot’ for a hotel:
‘You are on the main arterial route to and from the Causeway Coast,’ he added. ‘The Applegreen on this site is doing very well indeed and the site used to be home to the Fort Royal Inn, which was a very popular venue.’
The planning application, which is currently being considered by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, includes a reception lobby, bar, restaurant and function room and covers a total floor area of 4,146m.
Lorries are currently using part of the plot for parking and the planning application indicates that developers believe that once the doors open, around 210 people and 96 vehicles, excluding those owned by staff, will visit the hotel each day.
Mr Bradley, whose company, Chic Ltd., has an office in nearby Kilrea, said that he was currently planning to pitch the hotel at the budget end of the market:
‘The top end is well catered for, Galgorm [Spa and Golf Resort] do a fantastic job there so we’re thinking more about budget accommodation, but we’ll see how it goes, it might not end up like that, all options are open,’ he added.
It’s now four years since Mr Bradley developed the adjacent Applegreen service station site and he says it’s likely that the hotel facilities will also be leased to an independent operator or brand. He isn’t interested in running the hotel himself.
His hope now is that planning permission will be granted within the next six months, allowing construction to begin on the site within a year.