Members of the Ardagh Preservation Society are concerned about the potential rezoning of Ardagh Neighbourhood Park.
During the Second Stage Public Consultation of the Draft Longford County Development Plan 2021-2027, a submission was made to re-zone Ardagh House and the two gate lodges from ‘Tourism’ to ‘Residential’.
It also asked for the lands of Ardagh Demesne to be re-zoned from ‘Tourism’ to ‘Agriculture’.
A closer look at the zoning map indicates half of that is proposed to be zoned for amenity purposes including the amenity park.
Longford County Council Chief Executive has recommended the re-zoning be approved by Longford councillors.
Chairperson of the Ardagh Preservation Society Joanna Pearman explained that the local community is concerned the potential loss of the neighbourhood park could be “an unintended consequence of the rezoning of the land”.
“It’s highly likely that it could be potentially closed off. That’s our main concern. It would be a poor thing for the village,” she said.
“That space is really the only public green space that Ardagh has. It’s 30 years old and it’s used consistently.
“The public use it and it’s maintained by the Tidy Towns committee. It would be a tragedy to lose that aspect of the village, which is itself a key part of the fabric of county Longford.”
Ardagh Village is a multi-award-winning heritage village and is one of two Architectural Conservation Areas in Longford.
The extensive (re)designing of the demesne and village carried out by James Rawson Carroll in the early 1860s allows Ardagh to boast the very unusual for claim of being a planned village.
Ardagh House is considered to have been built during the 1730s. The current gate lodges, the West Lodge and the Villa Maria Lodge, were constructed c. 1863 and formed part of the overall work led by James Rawson Carroll.
379 structures are listed in the ‘Record of Protected Structures in County Longford excluding Longford Town’. Of them, 46 (12.2%) of the structures are in Ardagh, and 14 (3.7%) of them are part of Ardagh Demesne.
Ardagh House and the two gate lodges are listed in the Record of Protected Structures.
Landed estates, heritage, and/or protected structures across the country have successfully shown the key roles they play in encouraging (domestic) tourism and providing employment opportunities.
In 1989, four acres of land were permitted to be used by two landowners to the Ardagh Tidy Town’s Committee. Dr Christy Boylan, the former President of the Tree Council of Ireland, oversaw the planning and design of the Ardagh Neighbourhood Park.
However, when Ardagh Demesne was sold in 2012, the Ardagh Neighbourhood Park was included in the sale.
Ms Pearman remarked, “As such, should the Longford councillors approve the re-zoning, there is a real and substantial risk access to the park would be lost.
“And the trees that form this mature woodland felled.
“The Ardagh Neighbourhood Park is a vital community amenity.
“It has been enjoyed by community residents and thousands of visitors to Ardagh for over thirty years. Its loss would be devastating.”
Submissions as part of the Third Stage Public Consultation of the Draft Longford County Development Plan 2021-2027 closed yesterday Tuesday, August 10.
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