A multi-million pound plan to redevelop Ogle Street in Armagh is to be recommended for approval on Wednesday.
It is a year since Armagh I first revealed the proposals to reconstruct one side of the historic street which had been razed to the ground back in November 1997.
The proposals had originally included 58 residential units.
But in the summer, an updated application was submitted for 70 units, as well as a retail outlet.
In all, it represents an investment in the region of £5 million.
The application had been submitted in the name of Ogle Street Investments.
Officers will recommend to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s planning committee on Wednesday that the proposals should be allowed to proceed.
And this has been welcomed by the developer, who hopes that – if all goes according to plan – Ogle Street might rise once again.
Speaking to Armagh I on the eve of this crucial meeting, the developer said : “Planners recommended a few changes had to be made because of HED (Historical Environment) and that had a few observations that had to be taken into consideration during the application process.
“That has now been done and it has now been recommended, which means it will be put before the committee on Wednesday.
“We hope that they will be in agreement.
“The site has been derelict for 23 years now.
“We have already restored one of the old buildings there and we are in the process of doing another one at the moment.
“We would be fairly confident that the planning committee will approve it.”
The developer said he is “very pleased” that the much-anticipated project has reached this stage and insists the scheme will be a ‘game-changer’ for Armagh.
“This would be a very positive outcome for Ogle Street, considering it has been left vacant for 23 years,” he added.
“We would hope to begin the construction stage later this year.
“This will provide housing – both social and private – which is much needed for Armagh and the surrounding area.”
The proposals relate to a site listed as 16 to 52 Ogle Street and is for “one retail unit and 70 numbered residential units with in-curtilage car parking and turning area”.
In all it will be constructed in seven blocks, with one of these – Block F – the retail element of the plans.
Block A, which will run along the existing lane to the car park, consists of five three-person, two bedroom townhouses.
It is these and the retail unit which essentially will form a new street, complete with footpath.
Block B will consist of six three-person, two bedroom townhouses to the rear.
Block C is in the central area of the development and will comprise five five-person, three bedroom townhouses.
Block D will be made up of five three-person, two bedroom maisonettes, and four three-person, two bedroom apartments. Block E will have eight three-person, two bed apartments.
Block G will have four three-person, two bed apartments, and three two-person, one bedroom apartments.
Fronting Ogle Street will be a mix of one and two-bedroom apartments and a townhouse.
There will be access for cars to turn off Ogle Street and on to the laneway linking it and the car park to the rear of EuroSpar.
This will facilitate residents of the new properties to avail of the parking which is included as part of the plans in a central courtyard area.
Also hoping that the council will endorse the planners’ recommendation is Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty, who said it would “breathe new life into an historic part of the city”.
And the SDLP representative added: “It will boost footfall and activity with a mixed use of retail and residential units.
“The development will see a mix of private and social housing as well as a retail unit.
“This particular scheme will see new ‘shared housing’ provided and this is most welcome. In addition to meeting the very clear housing need in Armagh City, it will also act as a catalyst for regeneration and renewal in the centre of our historic Armagh.
“I want to commend the team leading the development for the sympathetic way in which the scheme has been designed and also want to thank the design team and officials in planning, the Environment Agency and council for all their work to date.
“We met on numerous occasions and the way in which everyone approached this development has to be commended.
“I know the application is before council this week and hope to see it receive the cross-party support an application of this significance deserves”