The massive €233m ‘Center Parcs Longford Forest’ holiday village development moved a step closer to becoming reality on Friday as the planning application was formally submitted to Longford County Council.
“This is another good milestone for the project,” commented Center Parcs CEO Martin Dalby who revealed that 32 box loads of documentation, with over 3,000 pages that make up the application, were delivered to the County Council’s planning department.
Speaking to the ‘Leader’, Mr Dalby added, “We’re all quite pleased with ourselves because you may recall back in April when we announced and acquired the Ballymahon site, we said we’d be hoping to lodge an application by the Autumn. It is October 30 today and we’ve made it, which is great news.”
Approximately 750 jobs will be created during the construction phase of ‘Center Parcs Longford Forest’ and 1,000 permanent jobs, across all skill levels, at the Village once operational.
“Our plan is to be open for the Summer of 2019,” said Mr Dalby. “That is what we are aiming for. We need a smooth planning consent and then we can get on building and more importantly bring the jobs to Longford.”
There were a number of objections to the planning application for Center Parcs’ last built village in the UK at Woburn but Mr Dalby is confident that if objections arise, they can be dealt with.
“Through the planning process at Woburn we did have a number of local people who were against the application and they were concerned about the usual things - traffic, noise, being able to see the park, light pollution and damage to the environment. And we, through the planning process, were able to give evidence and proof that all of their fears were not founded at all and that there would not be any impact in terms of those matters.”
And if there are objections to ‘Center Parcs Longford Forest’, Mr Dalby replied, “I am extremely confident that we can (deal with them) and we have within the application set out all the evidence to combat any of those particular issues of concern. As an example, we delivered 32 box loads of documentation to Longford Council, with over 3,000 pages that make up the application.
“I’ve read every single word of every single page. And we’ve covered traffic assessments, environmental impact and all kinds of things in there. So I’m very confident we have covered everything that could possibly be an issue.”
Thanking local groups in Ballymahon, Longford County Council and local TD’s for their support to-date, Mr Dalby pointed out that the next five weeks is the consultation period for the planning application.
“We will have our Community Liaison Officer in the Library in Ballymahon every week to be available to discuss the project with anyone who wishes to do so.
“We’ve also a public overview document that we’ve produced. It is the planning application in 70 pages and not 3,000 pages, that’s available for people to have a look at in the library and also in the council offices. So we’re available and if anyone wants to send us an email, then absolutely no problem.”