A design image showing what the planned retail and office development at O’Neill Place, off High Street, Tullamore, will look like when built.

Tullamore retail and office development gets the go-ahead

The developer of a planned retail and office building off High Street in Tullamore said it has the potential to be a "landmark" development which could "open up" an underused area of the town.

Last week, Offaly County Council granted permission for "a new 2, 3 and 4 storey commercial development" at O'Neill Place, which would consist of "ground floor retail and upper level office space."

The project was previously granted planning permission in 2017, but the developer, James O'Connor, said delays arising from the pandemic had contributed to the previous grant of planning permission lapsing this year.

A new application for the project was submitted, and Mr O'Connor told the Offaly Independent he was very pleased it had now been given the go-ahead.

“It’s a nice building, a landmark that will open up that section of town and it will be a green building, it will be very energy efficient,” he said.

Mr O’Connor is currently working to secure a long-term tenant for the building, with his preference being for a Government agency to move in there.

“Although there is office space (available) in Tullamore at the moment, we have two distinct advantages, one of which is that the building can be customised to suit the tenant’s requirements, and the other is that it’s a building that will be very energy efficient when it’s built,” he said.

The development site is located to the rear of Spollen’s pub and fronts directly onto the O’Neill Place carpark, which Mr O’Connor said was being under-used at present.

“We are looking for a long-term tenant, someone that we can do a good job for so that they will be there for the long haul,” he said.

Last September, Mr O’Connor submitted a planning application for six townhouses on another area of the same site, and that application is currently subject to a request from the council for further information.

He said the proposed townhouses would be in a building that would be quite similar in appearance to the retail and office development which has now been granted planning permission.

The mixed-use retail and office building would take up 618 sq metres of the 1,199 sq metre site. A design statement submitted as part of the planning application stated that it would “strengthen the commercial offering in an identified key county town and act as a growth driver not only for the county but for the Midland region.”

It added that the retail units on the ground floor of the development would “bring life back to the carpark and increase commercial activity in the town.”

Car parking spaces to the front of the development are to be “retained but moved to make allowance for a pedestrian footpath,” according to the design statement, which said this would lead to a net gain of two parking spaces across the carpark as a whole.

It was also stated that bicycle racks would be provided and that the office units would be fitted with showers “to encourage more cycling to work.”

Planning permission for the project has been granted by the council subject to 13 conditions, one of which is that the developer must provide a 1.8 metre wide footpath along the frontage of the development, which must “tie in with the footpath from High Street”.

The council also said the revised car parking layout at O’Neill Place must be agreed in advance and that electrical car charging points, and LED lighting, must be provided.

Cables serving the development have to be placed underground, the council stipulated. The project is subject to a development contribution to Offaly County Council of €11,124.

Mr O’Connor said the council had been “good to deal with” during the planning process. “They have been fair, and I can’t fault them,” he said.

He also complimented the architects who had worked on the plans, Patrick Little and Céilí Hoey of Axis Architecture in Tullamore.