£3m caravan park project to boost tourism in Co Antrim

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A £3m Northern Ireland holiday park is set to be given the green light. The proposed development will feature 110 static pitches, 52 touring pitches & 10 camping cabins alongside amenity buildings & play area.

A new £3 million caravan park at Shane's Castle, close to the shores of Lough Neagh in Co Antrim, is set to be given the green light. The application is for a park featuring 110 static caravan pitches, 52 spots for touring caravans and 10 camping cabins, as well as new amenity buildings, showers and toilet pods.

The proposal for the seven-acre site at Castle Road, on the eastern edge of the Shane’s Castle Estate, is one of two new major developments being launched by Blair's Caravan Ltd ahead of the arrival of The Open golf championship in Portrush next July.

The family-run business, which was established more than 40 years ago, submitted plans in January to significantly expand its Hilltop Holiday Park on Loguestown Road in Portrush, which runs alongside a second site in Portrush, Dhu Varren on the Portstewart Road. Both sites house around 800 holiday homes.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council's planning committee originally signalled its support for the Shane’s Castle project in May, however, the green light was deferred due to concerns expressed by the Historical Environment Division, which opposed the bid on the potential impact on the historic demesne within Shane's Castle.

The economic windfall from one of golf's most prestigious events is expected to generate more than £70m for the economy. In its economic impact assessment, Blair's said it anticipates that the Shane's Castle Estate Caravan Park will add up to £1.5m per year of direct spending, rising to £2.1m when indirect spending is considered.

"This means that over the period of a decade the applicant estimates that the impact could represent somewhere in the region of £21m in total spend in the local area and up to £11m in gross value added at today's values," Blair’s said.

The sums do not include the £3m anticipated cost of the caravan site, which will benefit the construction trade.

The plan by Blair's to significantly expand its business has been backed by Danske Bank, which has provided a £4m refinance package to the business.

“Once operational, it is anticipated the park will support over 30 new jobs locally, including four people to be employed directly at the park,” a council statement said.

Following the decision, committee chairman Councillor Henry Cushinan said: “This is a fantastic investment in the tourism infrastructure of our borough. The development will create more high quality options for people to visit and stay in our borough, also using the gateway of Belfast International Airport.”