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George Best Hotel developer wars with council as ‘dream turns to living nightmare'

10 December 2018 by
George Best Hotel developer wars with council as ‘dream turns to living nightmare'

Signature Living chairman Lawrence Kenwright has threatened to walk away from the development of the George Best hotel in Belfast after accusing the city's council of scuppering its plans.

In a letter to the council the hotelier accused it of being "anti-development", claiming its actions were "stifling growth, discouraging inward investment and damaging Belfast and the wider Northern Ireland economy".

Last month Belfast City Council confirmed it was undertaking a live enforcement investigation in relation to "unauthorised" work at the Signature Living site, a 63-bedroom hotel named after the late Northern Ireland footballer.

It was originally due to open in June this year but its launch has been delayed as planning consultations continue.

In the open letter, which accuses the council of incompetence, Kenwright said: "I was led to believe that it was your dream to not only increase visitor numbers, but also lead a business-friendly city that welcomes investment and new development. Sadly, the dream you talked about during our first interaction at [real estate exhibition] MIPIM has now turned into a living nightmare.

"It has become crystal clear to me that we are working with a Local Authority that serves the needs of a select few and is openly hostile towards new investors and business.

"Indeed it appears that officers have not acted impartially and have instead bowed down to the demands of businesses that have been established longer in the city than us. It is a factor that has repeatedly affected us and is particularly prevalent with the George Best Hotel development."

He went on to state he would pull investment from the city, claiming a "sickly alliance between a few hoteliers and officers has pushed the opening of George Best back.

Belfast City Council declined to comment on the allegations.

Belfast Council investigates 'unauthorised' George Best hotel work>>

Signature Living chair slams 'corrupt council' following restaurant closure>>

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