Historic Co Down estate setting for proposed new hotel
AN historic Co Down country estate could become the setting for a new hotel and spa.
Early plans have emerged for the redevelopment of Mourne Park House in Kilkeel, housed within the expansive 140-acre Mourne Park Estate.
A Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) was submitted last month for a change of use from the existing listed private residence and outbuildings to a "luxury hotel and spa".
The 13-acre development plans would involve the refurbishment of the current residence and a new build extension, according to the notice and also includes car parking.
The central block of Mourne Park House was destroyed by a fire in May 2013, just after the completion of a 10-year restoration programme.
At the time the owners were reportedly in the process of finalising plans for the conversion of the landmark building into a boutique hotel.
On the Mourne Park website the owners state they are "absolutely committed" to the restoration of Mourne Park and have "open minds" as to how this would be achieved.
"The rebuild is currently on hold until the right person or group comes forward to claim the opportunity," they said.
"Any tourism development will have an important ripple affect for the whole area and therefore there is a great deal of support from every angle, political and local, so any realistic proposal will be encouraged and given every assistance by the relevant departments."
The ownership of Mourne Park dates back to the founder of the Kilmorey family's Irish estates, Sir Nicholas Bagnall, who was granted extensive lands in Newry and Mourne in 1552 by Edward VI. The current Earl of Kilmorey is former Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Richard Needham.
Mourne Park House was extensively re-built in 1806 and later extensions were made in 1820, 1859 and 1920.
Ahead of the potential submission of a formal planning application, a public meeting will take place on September 18 in the Kilmorey Arms Hotel in Kilkeel from 7pm to 9pm.
Meanwhile a 175-bedroom apart-hotel is among the schemes recommended for approval at next week's Belfast City Council Planning Committee meeting.
The nine-storey development being brought forward by Oakland Holdings, will see the demolition of the Lyndon Court building at the corner of Queen Street and College Street. It is among a number of major applications set for the green light on Tuesday evening.
They include Wirefox's 11-storey mixed use development in the city centre. The multi-million pound scheme, which is a mix of ground floor retail and upper floor office accommodation, will see the demolition of the existing building at Oxford and Gloucester House.
PWD Development's proposed mixed-use development at the former First Trust Bank on the Ormeau Road is also recommended for approval, along with a residential housing applications.