LISBURN has long been the punchline for the joke 'what do you call a city without a hotel', but that is no longer the case with a hotel almost completed on the Hillsborough Road and work about to begin on another on the Hillhall Road.
But a city moving forward, hoping to attract more tourists, needs more than just two hotels and over the years there have been many plans lodged to build hotels throughout the city, including one at the Omniplex and another on the Glenavy Road.
The question is will these hotels actually be built or will they be lost in the planning system forever? According to the Planning Service there have been nine planning applications for hotels in the city in recent years, six of which have been approved and three which are still making their way through the system.
With work almost complete on the Premier Inn on the Hillsborough Road and a team being assembled to progress the HIllhall Road plan, which was approved by planners last week, that still leaves four approvals. However there is currently no indication of when work might start on the Eglantine Road, Knocknadona Quarry, Greenhall and in Hillsborough.
The hotels planned for the Omniplex and at the Maze are still in the planning system and an application for another Hillsborough Road hotel is currently being considered by the Planning Service Management Board after planners said no.
The chairman of Lisburn City Council's Economic Development Committee, Councillor Allan Ewart, is encouraging hoteliers to begin work on the approved hotels as soon as possible.
"Lisburn City Council will do all it can to help developers to proceed as soon as possible to building stage, which will be a great benefit to the construction industry and will help to get tradesmen back into employment," he said. "It is imperative that we proceed as soon as possible, Lisburn City Council area is growing rapidly and if we are to attract visitors and shoppers to the area then we have to provide accommodation to get them to sample all we have to offer."
One hotel that is almost ready to go is the Lagan Valley Hotel and Spa, a five star development on the Hillhall Road near the junction with Braniel Road. The man behind the project is moving full steam ahead to get on site as soon as possible.
Arthur Mooney from Mooney Property Ltd, said he was now putting together his team and would be moving on site as soon as feasible.
"Following the great news that the Lagan Valley Hotel and Spa has been given the green light by all of the appropriate authorities we have now begun the process of assembling the team to deliver the scheme," said Mr Mooney.
"This has not been possible up to now as, despite our total commitment to the project, we had no guarantee that planning would be approved. We are low going through the process of appointing our team of experts including, for example, quantity surveyors, engineers, project managers and builders.
"The next stage will be to plan out the programme of work which will see us moving on site as soon as it's feasible. As always we will work closely with all key stakeholders and interested parties to ensure that the Lagan Valley Hotel and Spa is of optimum quality thus reflecting the magnificent setting offered by the Lagan Valley Regional Park."
The proposed new hotel on Hillhall Road might look.