Irish Center Parcs resort gets all clear from planners

An artist's impression of the Longford resort
An artist's impression of the Longford resort

Ireland’s first Center Parcs holiday resort has been given final approval by planners.

About 1,000 people, mostly aged 18-24 and local, will be employed at the forest village near Ballymahon, Co Longford when it opens in 2019.

Management said about 750 construction jobs will be created while it is being built.

The plans were sent to An Bord Pleanala after four objections were raised by people living locally to Newcastle Wood.

Martin Dalby, Center Parcs chief executive, said the resort will transform the area of the Midlands in tourism and economic terms.

“Since we announced our desire to bring the Center Parcs experience to Ireland last April, we have been overwhelmed by the positive support we have received at both local and national level and we are looking forward to forging ahead to bring our plans to fruition,” he said.

The 395-acre resort, Longford Forest, will have room for about 2,500 guests in 470 lodges, 30 apartments, treehouses, a spa, restaurants, cafes and a sub-tropical pool area with water rides.

The project involves an investment of about €230 million.

Center Parcs operates five short-break destinations in the UK at Whinfell Forest in Cumbria, Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, Elveden Forest in Suffolk, Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire and Longleat Forest in Wiltshire.

It took in two million guests last year.

Center Parcs announced plans for Longford last April.

It has gone through planning approval in the county council and now the appeals board, with some minor restrictions placed on the development.

Management have been asked to draw up a plan to encourage workers to use public transport, cycle, walk and car-pool to work including by offering a bike park and shower facilities for staff.

There is also an onus to recycle waste at the site and to plan for invasive aquatic species and terrestrial species, including fallow deer.

Prices for breaks in the Longford resort have not been advertised, but average costs for a Center Parcs stay run to thousands, with management saying families spend more on activities and food and drink than on their accommodation.

A family of four, with two children under five, can expect to pay from about €1,069 (£899) to €1,248 (£1,049) for four nights mid-week in a two-bed lodge in any of the UK resorts in July next year – that is before the extras start to double the cost.

Prices for Longford are not expected to be advertised until construction is well under way.