Center Parcs is working towards a summer 2019 opening for its €230m forest holiday village in Longford, which received planning approval from An Bord Pleanála yesterday.
TD Kevin ’Boxer’ Moran said it was “brilliant news” for the county, with the project at Newcastle Wood near Ballymahon expected to create 1,000 permanent jobs when opened.
There will be around 750 jobs created during construction, with a further 300 spin-off jobs in the wider community.
“This investment is equivalent to an Intel or Google coming to the Midlands,” said Mr Moran, TD for Longford-Westmeath.
An Bord Pleanála attached 21 conditions to the development but they will not affect the original building plans that include 470 lodges and a three-storey apartment building.
The planning authority said the project had been comprehensively considered and designed to ensure the least impact on the local environment.
It said the development would not seriously injure the character of the area or have unacceptable impacts on the ecology, water quality, landscape or traffic safety if it complied with the conditions.
The plan includes a spa, shops, restaurants and cafes, along with a glass-topped ‘Subtropical Swimming Paradise’ featuring water rides.
TD Peter Burke (FG) said it was critical full advantage is taken of the “once in a lifetime opportunity” for Longford and the Midlands.
“As the Government TD for Longford, I will be working hard to ensure Government provides maximum support for this development and all the advantages it will hopefully bring,” he said.
Center Parcs chief executive Martin Dalby said when they announced plans last April to develop the forest holiday village they had been overwhelmed by the support received at both local and national level.
Paddy Mahon, chief executive of Longford County Council, said the Center Parcs management team, led by Mr Dalby, had worked to the highest professional standards.
He said an immediate challenge for Longford is to enhance other aspects of its tourism product to persuade Center Parcs visitors to extend their stay in the county.
“There is work currently being carried out by the council on the Mid Shannon Wilderness Park, the Royal Canal Greenway, the literary trail, and the rebel trail,” said Mr Mahon.
Mr Dalby said the forest holiday village would have capacity for up to 2,500 guests and that many of the permanent jobs are expected to be filled by people between the age of 18 and 24.
The majority of employees, he believes, are likely to live locally.
Mr Dalby said Center Parcs estimates that, when operational, the holiday village would add around €32m to Ireland’s economy.
Center Parcs has five villages in Britain. Prices for a week-long break next month in a two-bedroom lodge for up to four people would cost around €2,000. A weekend or midweek break in autumn for a family of four would cost between €400 to €850.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved