‘We are in this for the long haul’ - Center Parcs chief

Martin and Felicity Lyons from Deerpark Equestrian Centre with Center Parcs CEO Martin Dalby (middle). Photo: Michelle Ghee. www.gphotos.ie
The head of leading UK holiday resort firm Center Parcs has said he sees no reason why a €200m leisure facility cannot become fully operational in Ballymahon by the end of 2019.

The head of leading UK holiday resort firm Center Parcs has said he sees no reason why a €200m leisure facility cannot become fully operational in Ballymahon by the end of 2019.

Martin Dalby said plans to submit formal plans for the proposed centre at Newcastle Woods by this autumn remained very much on track.

Scientific teams have already been on site at the 375 acre forest to carry out a string of tests in advance of a detailed environmental impact assessment study eventually accompanying that file.

They are investigations that look set to continue over the coming weeks as the UK holiday giant sets its sights on branching into Ireland’s rapidly recovering tourism industry.

“We have begun the very first stages of the planning application process,” he said.

“It’s quite a lengthy process and we have to undertake a number of surveys on the site.

“We started some of those last week using local Irish companies.

“We are busy talking to the local authority about the planning application to understand exactly what shape and form it needs to take, what’s the content got to be.

“We had a team over last week working on planning stuff and we have got guys coming over almost every week working on the project.

It’s precisely that attention to detail Mr Dalby hopes will win over locals through a series of engagement days.

The first of those took place last Wednesday at Cooney’s Hotel, the same venue that was used to confirm Center Parcs’ official arrival seven weeks earlier.

“Community engagement is vital,” he said, as interested spectators gathered inside the hotel’s function room.

“We are a big project, it’s a big impact on the area, €32m boost to the GDP of Ireland and a lot of that will be in this local area.

“So from that regard it’s a big project and it’s very important to engage with people, keep them abreast of any progress and any issues we need to maybe jump across. That way we bring the whole community and local business with us.”

The day itself was not a recruitment event.

Instead, it was, as Mr Dalby termed it himself, “Center Parcs saying hello” to people.

And the intitial feedback from those present last Wednesday, seemed to be overwhelmingly positive, and the Center Parcs cheif seemed buoyed by the response so far to the proposed project.

“We certainly have had many emails from people expressing their congratulations on the announcement, people offering their services of support and help, and people enquiring about the sort of jobs we have.

“We promise to keep on coming back throughout the duration of the scheme to keep everyone informed of what we are all about.”