UK's Osborne Group applies for special consent to redevelop historic Irish site

Armagh Gaol, Northern Ireland(Image: Bobby McKay / CC BY-ND 2.0)

The UK's Osborne Group has applied for listed building consent to develop the £23-million Gaol Hotel in Armagh, Hospitality Ireland reported. The group has planned to convert the Gaol women's prisons into a hotel with 32 apartments, seven retail units and a spa as it generates 350 new jobs for the area.

The group received regular planning permission for the proposed hotel over four years ago. However, due to the Gaol's historic status, Osborne Group was still required to request special listed building consent. 
Trevor Osborne, owner of the Osborne Group, previously questioned if the development project was financially feasible. He stated that the group could not continue its plans until the Northern Irish government's "commitment is quantified and finalized." However, the Osborne Groups' recent application has shown that the company is still committed to developing the project. While Osborne will invest £11 million in the project, the Northern Irish government agreed to invest as well. However, the poor economic situation at Northern Ireland's parliament has left the project at a standstill for four years. In 2014, the group informed the government it would need another £4 million to continue the redevelopment project. However, the costs have continued to increase daily due to the state of the jail buildings and complex.

The historic Gaol building was built between 1780 and 1852 and designed by architects Francis Cooley and William Murray. It has been vacant since it closed in 1988. 

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The developer has experience with similar redevelopments as it previously converted the Oxford Jail into a boutique hotel under Frasers Hospitality's brand Malmaison.