Northern Ireland

Bushmills whiskey distillery: Planners warned over decision

Bushmills barrel
Image caption Bushmills is Ireland's oldest working distillery

Planners have been urged to consider the consequences of turning down an application for a new office building at the Old Bushmills distillery site.

Diageo, which owns the distillery, wants to erect a facility housing a new reception area, offices, a documents store and additional staff car parking.

It would replace an old office building the firm says is not fit for purpose.

But Planning Service has recommended it should be refused, saying the design is unsuitable for a conservation area.

In correspondence about the proposed development, a planning officer said: "The form, materials and detailing of the development are not sympathetic to the built form of the area and the development does not preserve or enhance the character and appearance of Bushmills Conservation Area."

It said finishes such as stone-effect cladding, fibre cement roof slates and uPVC fascia windows and doors were not appropriate.

The correspondence also states that such a development would be considered acceptable with a different scale and design.

Moyle councillor Robert McIlroy has urged planners to work with the architects to find a way forward.

"The distillery is so important to this area, it employs many local people and I feel it must be possible to find a solution that would accommodate this new building," he said.

Mr McIlroy brought the issue before a recent meeting of Moyle Council where more time was granted for consultation.

No objections were received from the local community to the new building.

Diageo said it was working closely with planners and hoped the project would ultimately be approved.

Bushmills, in north Antrim, is Ireland's oldest working distillery.

In 2008, it celebrated the 400th anniversary of the original licence to distil whiskey, granted to the Bushmills area in 1608.