Moorhill House, Tullamore, as it looked when recorded by the the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage in 2004. A residential development is now being proposed at the site of the derelict former hotel.

Proposal for 24 apartments at former hotel site in Tullamore

Plans have been lodged for apartment development in the grounds of a derelict former country house hotel in Tullamore.

The development at Moorhill House, a protected structure on the Clara Road which was built in the 1870s, is being proposed by Cayenne Holdings Ltd.

The project would involve refurbishment and restoration works to create a three-bedroom house, along with the construction of 24 one-bedroom apartment units in a single and a three-storey block.

Cayenne Holdings Ltd is a company directed by Anthony Kane and Seamus Kane, with a registered address of c/o Palfinger Ireland Ltd, Cloncollig Industrial Estate, Tullamore.

Plans for the residential development were lodged with Offaly County Council in mid-July, and its decision on the project is due later this month.

An architectural heritage impact assessment submitted with the application stated that Moorhill House was "most likely developed as a farmhouse or modest Georgian residence" in the 1870s.

It said the building was converted into a small, family-run hotel and restaurant in the late 1970s by Oliver and Jean Toner.

A "favourite guest" of Moorhill House was Jean Kennedy Smith, the former US Ambassador to Ireland and sister of President John F Kennedy. Ms Kennedy Smith "spread Moorhill's fame far and wide" according to the architectural report, which added that other notable guests in the past included former Ireland football manager Jack Charlton and movie star Aidan Quinn.

The property changed hands in 1999, and again in 2006, but a fire broke out in July 2010 and plans for its redevelopment "were put on hold".

Today, Moorhill House is "derelict, fire-damaged, vandalised... in a state of partial collapse and in dangerous structural condition," according to the report.

The proposed residential development would include "partial rear demolition of the protected structure with proposed refurbishment and rear single and two storey extension to create a three-bedroom house."

"In the curtilage of the protected structure, 24 one-bedroom units are proposed in a single and three storey block with associated site works."

The application stated that the refurbishment work on the main house would "reinstate the significant Georgian-style features of the period property i.e. the sliding sash windows, slate roof, external render, while also retaining the original internal layout at ground and first floor".

The three-storey block being proposed as part of the apartment development would "face out onto the Clara Road" and would "reduce in size and scale where it meets the original house... allowing Moorhill House retain its character and significance on the site."

A number of public submissions on the plans have been received by the council, including one from neighbouring residents Tara and David O'Beirne who are objecting to the development, saying it "will devalue, and seriously interfere with our privacy, amenity and the quiet enjoyment of our property".

Offaly County Council's decision on the planning application is due by Tuesday, August 22.