Alcohol licensing rules ‘updated’ for Center Parcs development

License granted to firm behind Co Longford resort covers 470 acres rather than specific structures

Staff at the Center Parcs Longford Forest resort which is due to open next month. Photograph: Naoise Culhane.

Staff at the Center Parcs Longford Forest resort which is due to open next month. Photograph: Naoise Culhane.

 

Alcohol licensing rules had to be redrawn to cater for the scale of the Center Parcs resort in Co Longford, Portlaoise Circuit Court has heard.

The court heard the publicans’ license, granted on Friday to the holiday camp company, covers more than 470 acres and is attached to the entire site rather than just one or several structures on it.

Constance Cassidy SC, for Center Parcs, told Judge Keenan Johnson that the resort’s application was part of “such an enormous project that the old regulations which applied to holiday camps had to be updated”.

She said the company had taken multiple steps to ensure it would be a good neighbour to other Longford residents and stressed that everything promised in its planning application had been delivered.

Raj Singh-Dehal, HR and commercial services director at Center Parcs, told the court that the “overwhelming majority of the groups who will be visiting the site will be families”. He stressed that while the bar and restaurant offerings available will be comprehensive, alcohol is not central to the experience.

He also said that “over €1 billion will be contributed to the Exchequer over the next 20 years” by Center Parcs and around 1,000 people will be have full-time year-round employment in the resort.

He said more than 5,000 bookings had already been made and was optimistic it would have a year round occupancy of about 90 per cent.

The order was granted by Judge Johnson, who said the resort would “deliver a tremendous boost not only to the local economy but to the whole country”. He wished the owners well.

The court was told that the sprawling woodland site featuring a large swimming pool complex, restaurants and nearly 500 lodges in Ballymahon is now complete but for a few finishing touches.

More than 800 people have already been employed on the site and are preparing to welcome visitors next month.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Singh-Dehal said Center Parcs was “super ready and super proud of what we have achieved” in Longford.

He hoped the jobs arising from the venture would “go some way to stopping people having to leave the region in search of work”.

According to the most recent census Co Longford has a population of just under 41,000 people. When full, the resort can host 2,500 visitors.