An Bord Pleanála has given the go-ahead for the Center Parcs holiday village at Ballymahon in what is a major boost for the greater Midlands region.
The €230 million investment, the largest ever private tourism project in the State, will create approximately 750 jobs during construction, 1,000 permanent jobs when open, and a further 300 spin-off jobs in the wider economy.
Many of these roles are expected to be filled by employees between the ages of 18 and 24, and the majority of employees are likely to live locally and in the surrounding Midlands region.
Following Wednesday’s successful conclusion of the planning process, Center Parcs will now move to the procurement phase of the project which will be followed by construction. The project is working towards an opening date in 2019. Once open it will have capacity for up to 2,500 guests.
Center Parcs offers high quality short breaks in a secluded and natural woodland setting. The village will include up to 500 lodges designed with families and the environment in mind, more than 100 indoor and outdoor activities, a spa, a range of restaurants and cafés, and the iconic subtropical swimming paradise with water rides.
Martin Dalby, CEO of Center Parcs, said: “We outlined from day one the transformative impact that Center Parcs Longford Forest will have on the Midlands region in both tourism and economic terms. We will continue to work closely with all stakeholders over the coming years to realise this significant potential and, ultimately, to bring our unique short break experience to life for families throughout Ireland.”
Longford-Westmeath Independent Deputy, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, has welcomed the announcement: “Longford has been one of those counties that has been hit hardest over the last few years with around 3,900 people on the Live Register,” he said. “Around 500 of those are under the age of 25 years, so these jobs will be most welcome and this morning’s announcement could not come at a better time.”
Fine Gael’s Peter Burke has call the announcement “a fantastic boost” for the area. The Longford-Westmeath Deputy stressed the importance of putting in place sufficient training for the local workforce “to ensure that as many of these jobs as possible stay local”.
Deputy Burke called the project a “once in a lifetime opportunity for Longford and the Midlands” and vowed to work hard to ensure the Government provides the maximum support for the development.