Center Parcs planning €100m resort in Longford woods (ireland)
In the latest Lonely Planet guidebook for Ireland, Co Longford merits eight paragraphs in a 750-page book.
Longford, it states, is a “quiet place of low hills and pastoral scenes. It has few tourist sights” though the guide does praise the angling.
Some might have been tempted to dismiss the news that planning permission was being sought for €100 million Center Parcs, one of the largest private tourism investments in the history of the State, as an April Fool’s joke.
One of the UK’s largest holiday resorts is unveiling its plans on Thursday to build a €100 million complex in Co Longford that would employ more than 500 people.
Center Parcs has been in negotiations with Coillte, the State forestry and landowning company, and Longford County Council for a resort village to be built in Newcastle Woods, near Ballymahon.
Mark Casey, cathaoirleach of Longford County Council, said up to 600 people would be employed during the construction phase, which is expected to take about 2 ½ years.
“It’s the biggest single private investment in tourism in history of the country,” he said. “It’s a massive project, significant revenue will be generated . . . It will put Longford on the map as a premier tourist destination for Ireland. ”
Center Parcs runs five villages across the UK, in Cumbria, Nottinghamshire, Wiltshire, Suffolk and Bedfordshire, providing short-break holidays for families. It has an annual turnover of some €400 million.
The company had previously planned to open up an Irish complex and held advanced talks with the Government and landowners about the concept, but the project was abandoned when the financial crisis struck.
Mr Casey said the company had bought 375 acres of the semi-mature woodland with a diverse range of tree species on which to develop its first Irish resort. The complex would include a large water dome, at least 200 lodges and villas, tree houses, restaurants, bars, swimming pools and spas.
More than 200 indoor and outdoor activities will be on offer including archery, wall climbing, high rope challenges and spa retreats set in forests, which extend to both sides of the river Inny.