Hotelier slams McCrea ‘hypocrisy’

A MID ULSTER business woman has hit out at the ‘unfair and undue political influence’ after a lengthy battle for planning permission for a £10m hotel.

Patricia O’Kane described former MP William MCCrea’s campaign against the hotel development as hypocritical.

Last week Magherafelt District Council approved planning permission for the development which has been in the offing since 2008.

The O’Kane family said they were delighted to have obtained approval for the hotel which is to be sited at Castledaswon roundabout.

However Mr McCrea’s campaign against the project was described as ‘frustrating and extremely arduous’.

“We made the application in 2008 after extensive discussions with our local community, businesses, industry, tourism bodies, architects, planning consultants and chartered accountants who carried out a very detailed assessment of the proposal,” said the O’Kane family statement.

“The location of the site in the heart of Mid Ulster, on the main route between our two major cities, is perfect for the hotel and will provide excellent facilities which are lacking at present in our locality.

“Regarding the lengthy delay in getting to this point, the planning department itself dealt with it in a professional and efficient manner and the application was approved in 2009.

“It was subsequent to this that the process became frustrating and extremely arduous when the application became the subject of unfair and undue political influence.

“This was a shock to say the least and an attitude that our family had neither experienced or believe to be just in any circumstance.

“Since Mr McCrea had attended the Council meeting in 2009 when the application was first approved and did not voice any concerns, his later objections were somewhat surprising,” said the statement.

“Given that each pound spent on construction generates three pounds going back into the local economy, and, at a period when both are in such dire straits, one would have expected that the obvious benefits to our community would have been welcomed.

“At a time when he was publicly expressing his exasperation that the enquiry regarding the objections toward a major application in Lisburn had ‘been delayed for a year and a half’ the former Minister of the Environment deliberately chose to ignore this application for much the same length of time. His treatment of the application has been hypocritical to say the least..

“Happily, that is now behind us and we would like to thank everyone who has advised, supported or otherwise been involved with the application and look forward to seeing the benefits of this project to the people of Castledawson and surrounding areas.

“We appreciate the efforts of Colm McGurk Chartered Architect, Bernard McAleenan Architect, Martin McGuiness MLA, Michael McAllister and Ursula McKillop of ASM Chartered Accountants, David Donaldson WYG Planning Consultants and the members of Magherafelt District Council who had the foresight to see the benefits of the project from its inception.

“In particular, we are grateful to Patsy McGlone SDLP whose diligence and persistance ensured that the application was treated in a fair and just manner and therefore brought to fruition,” said the statement.