The iconic former home of the Southern Health Trust on the Mall in Armagh could be turned into apartments as part of a major redevelopment, Armagh I can reveal.
An application for the work has this week been submitted to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.
There have been previous suggestions that the properties at 22 Russell Street – and 1 and 2 Gosford Place – could become a boutique style hotel or even offices or commercial units.
But these latest proposals – drawn up by Tregaron Properties Ltd – indicate an intention to develop 19 apartments on the prominent Armagh city centre site.
Neighbours – including the Mall Presbyterian Church and First Armagh Presbyterian Church – are to be notified.
According to a supporting statement, the design principles have taken account of the historic nature of the site.
It asserts: “With spectacular views onto the Mall, this proposal realises a basic town planning aspiration – to occupy the heart of the city with a mixed-use occupancy.”
The application site also includes land to the rear of the Mall Presbyterian Church.
The planned apartments would vary in size in terms of number of bedrooms and the intention is also to provide 23 car parking spaces. Work would also see new railings and paths.
It is also intended to demolish the enclosed steel framed fire escape staircase and the replacement with “an extension of the matching footprint to provide kitchen accommodation to the rear apartments”.
Also included is the proposed demolition of the concrete framed circular staircase and lift core on the rear elevation.
Meanwhile, the intention is to construct an extension to provide a new lift lobby.
According to the supporting statement, the “visually invasive wheelchair access ramp” on to the Mall will be removed. It will be located instead in the rear courtyard next to the car parking. The rear elevation will be used for pedestrians.
The statement adds: “It is hoped that this development will be a stimulus to encourage the brownfield land behind the fine Georgian streetscapes will be reconsidered for more formal linkages.”
It also points to the need and the desirability of such a development in this prime Armagh location.
The statement continues: “The location of the apartments allow for convenient access to Armagh city centre for young couples seeking to start on the housing market and or couples seeking to downsize having retired from working life.
“The proposal is for a prestigious private ownership scheme which reflects the original concept for the Mall.
“Use of communal leisure spaces such as the Mall reduce the requirement for private amenity spaces.
“The site has been embellished with designated car parking that is discrete and securely positioned within backland immediately to the rear. Historically this land was used as the ‘cart houses’ for the townhouses along this formal street plan which again is fitting.”
The original listed building element on the site is understood to be of 1830s construction with an extension in the early 1970s.
Internally the office space is highly cellular in nature and arranged over basement plus four upper floors. The Health and Social Care Buildings were added at the end of the 1960s. It once formed part of a garden complex associated with the Presbyterian Church after a speculative city centre development, in the mid-1800s, was aborted.
The building underwent major refurbishment and repair works after sustaining serious damage in an IRA bomb attack on the Armagh Courthouse in September 1993. It did reopen and was utilised by the health authorities but they later left and the offices were put on the market for sale.
Now this proposal could see the site being redeveloped and occupied by private tenants.
That, of course, will depend on planners and their recommendations – and whether or not their opinions are accepted and endorsed by local councillors.
Art O’Hagan of the CPS Property Group has been appointed by Tregaron Properties Ltd as the agent.
“This is prime real estate for the long term occupier, a stunning development opportunity and will be highly sought after, but this development could be sold in one lot to a suitable developer, all options are on the table at this point,” said Mr O’Hagan.
Contact Art@cps-property.com for more information.