Longford County Council has welcomed the decision by An Bord Pleanala to grant final planning permission to Center Parcs to build a new tourism resort in Newcastle Woods, Ballymahon.
The decision gives the green light to Center Parcs to start construction on one of the largest tourism projects ever to be built in Ireland with investment costs projected to reach €233 million.
According to the Cathaoirleach of Longford County Council, Councillor Mick Cahill, the new Center Parcs Longford Forest facility, which is expected to open in 2019, has the potential to transform Longford and the Midlands Region, bringing economic and social benefit to county Longford, creating employment opportunities for people of all ages and opportunities for local companies.
Cllr Cahill commented that this is also wonderful news for tourism in County Longford. “To have such a substantial tourism facility in the county attracting such a large volume of visitors will increase the profile of County Longford and make it very attractive as a place to visit and stay. The opening of the ‘Longford Forest’ facility by Center Parcs will make Longford a significant tourism destination in its own right.”
Cllr Cahill added, “We in County Longford will have one of the most advanced pieces of tourism infrastructure in the country, a short stay holiday destination for families from all corners of Ireland, the UK and beyond.”
The Chief Executive of Longford County Council, Mr Paddy Mahon, praised the Center Parcs management team for “the professional manner in which they dealt with the different authorities and the local community” since they decided that the Center Parcs Longford Forest site was the ideal location for a new resort.
He commented that the Center Parcs management team, ably led by CEO Mr Martin Dalby, has “worked to the highest professional standards and that their constant engagement with the local community at all stages in the process to date has been a model of good practice.”
Mr Mahon added that Longford County Council committed considerable resources and personnel to work with Center Parcs in advancing its plans and Councillors and staff can be proud that they helped deliver such a wonderful project to the County. “The Council would like to acknowledge the role of Coillte, other relevant agencies, community groups and all elected representatives whose support made the project possible.”
According to Mr Mahon, the immediate challenge for County Longford is to enhance all other aspects of its tourism product to persuade Center Parcs Longford Forest visitors that Longford offers a really authentic visitor experience that convinces them 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. Longford County Council is confident that, when all these projects are delivered in the next few years, County Longford will be viewed as one of the top tourism and visitor destinations in the Country,” remarked Mr Mahon.
Cllr Cahill concluded by saying that Center Parcs, by choosing Longford as their preferred location, has given local people and businesses a renewed sense of confidence.
“The future for County Longford is bright and everyone involved is determined to make the Longford Forest project a success. Longford County Council will continue to promote Longford as a strong vibrant and dynamic business and tourism location.”