The €233m Center Parcs Longford Forest holiday resort is due to open its doors in the summer of 2019
When Center Parcs Longford Forest was announced on April Fool’s Day, 2015, people found the news hard to believe. But as it started to sink in that this was certainly no joke, Ballymahon sprung into action and properties around the town were promptly bought up.
And, according to Jackie White of Raymond White Auctioneering in Ballymahon, the market has seen a significant improvement ever since.
“Property is good; the market is good. The summer season is a little slower, so we’re expecting it to pick up again soon,” Jackie explained.
“The biggest issue is to get stock. Nobody has built anything around here, so we’re selling below build cost. I think there needs to be some incentive for people to start building.”
Despite all of this, a quick drive through Ballymahon will reveal several ‘sold’ signs on properties around the town.
“When Center Parcs was announced, we had loads of different properties that were all bought up by people who were investing. Those properties have had a 50% increase in value,” Jackie revealed.
“Those people were taking a big risk, because we couldn’t give away a property in 2015 - well… we could, but they were more difficult to sell. So those people were taking a risk and it paid off.”
There’s a big demand on properties in Ballymahon now and not enough supply to meet that demand and, in Jackie’s opinion, and that’s largely due to Kepak and Center Parcs.
“I think by the time Center Parcs opens, we’ll be ready. But we really don’t know what to expect. The council is working hard on infrastructure,” she said.
Local councillor, Pat O’Toole, was happy to confirm that there are plenty of plans in the pipeline for Ballymahon in terms of infrastructure.
Gasworks Ireland is already in the process of delivering natural gas to Center Parcs and there have been several proposals for improvements to roads and traffic-calming measures in the town.
“There are traffic lights proposed for Nally’s Corner and what’s called a compact roundabout at the junction for the Athlone Road. All going well, those should be in place by the time Center Parcs opens,” Cllr O’Toole explained.
“There’s also a cycle path 2.5m wide proposed from O’Hanlon’s Pharmacy up as far as the National School to encourage more cycling.
“There would be problems after the National School, though, because the footpath gets narrower. They’d have to widen it there, but it would be great if it could be continued past the Moy Road and then it could link with the Royal Canal.”
In fact, Cllr O’Toole added, there are also plans in the pipeline to create a walkway and cycleway along the River Inny from Ballymahon all the way out to Newcastle Woods - something that will allow cyclists to make their way from Newcastle Woods all the way into the town, where they can use the new cycle path to get to the Royal Canal.
“From there they can go out to Corlea or out to Abbeyshrule - wherever they want. It’s very positive for the town,” said Cllr O’Toole.
“At the moment, traffic is bad if you hit it at the wrong time. But the plans for Nally’s Corner and the Athlone Road junction are the two best solutions available and I think they will greatly benefit the town.”
It’s hoped that these works will be completed in early spring 2019, making the town much more accessible well in advance of Center Parcs’ opening date.
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