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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

MEA Council greenlight £21M care home plans at former hotel in County Antrim

Views of the new care home in Carrickfergus

A planning application for change of use at the former Loughshore Hotel in Carrickfergus to a £21m care home was approved at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Planning Committee on Thursday.

The proposal seeks to provide a specialist nursing and residential care facility at the Belfast Road premises.

Planning officer Henry McAlister said the proposal would involve “mainly internal works” to create 111 bedrooms for nursing and residential care, alterations to windows and additional landscaping to “soften” the appearance of the building.

He indicated there were no objections to the proposal adding  it could “co-exist with other uses in the area”.

Sire location plan of new care home in Carrickfergus

Eamonn Loughrey, a planning agent, said Marks & Spencer, a neighbouring retailer, has expressed concern over the proximity of the Loughshore premises to its service yard, retail store and car park, which it considers may cause potential for noise complaints from future care home residents.

He stated the retailer requires “flexibility for store operations”. He noted presently, the only restrictions on the store are those preventing HGV lorries making deliveries at night.

Views of the new care home in Carrickfergus

Mr Loughrey said: “We have made the applicants aware of this and M&S don’t want any objections or complaints from any future residents, the applicant company and environmental health, and have sought assurances from the council and the applicant that any issues arising from the operation of M&S in the future, is a matter for the facility to address themselves.

“The applicant in this case has provided us with a letter agreeing to this which we are grateful for. M&S seek to retain fullest operational flexibility that it currently enjoys in respect of operational times for staff and public.”

Views of the new care home in Carrickfergus

Larne Lough DUP Alderman Paul Reid said:

“Surely the premise would be the very same if it was a hotel and people were paying to use a bedroom, if there was noise coming from your client, it would be the same issue?”

Mr Loughrey replied: “There is a slight refinement in that with a hotel, you leave the next day and just decide you don’t go back. This would have a little more longevity in the occupation of the space.”

He went on to say deliveries to M&S in Carrickfergus cannot take place from 11pm until 7am.

Knockagh Alliance Councillor Aaron Skinner proposed the committee accepted the officer’s recommendation to approve the application, seconded by Braid Ulster Unionist Cllr Alan Barr.

Planning agent Tom Stokes described the applicant, Healthcare Ireland, as “the fastest growing healthcare company in the north”. He noted the company owns and manages 25 nursing homes which employ 2,300 people.

He went on to say the company has engaged with M&S and has stressed it has “absolutely no concern” with the location of the store and sees it as a “huge advantage” for future residents.

Mr Stokes pointed out Healthcare Ireland operates care homes near other busy locations including airports, railways and other busy commercial areas, adding that 90 per cent of the company’s care homes are “within urban settings”.

He also indicated the healthcare company plans to create 150 full and part-time jobs in Carrickfergus.

Planning permission was granted after councillors voted unanimously in favour of the proposal.


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