Center Parcs has welcomed An Bord Pleanála's decision to approve its plans for a €232 million forest holiday village in Co Longford.
The planning authority decided to grant permission with a number of revised conditions following appeals against the development.
The ambitious project, which has been described as a game-changer for the region, could employ up to 750 during construction and create a further 1,000 permanent jobs on completion.
Set on a 395 acre site at Newcastle Wood in Ballymahon, the holiday village will feature 470 lodges, 30 apartments a spa, shops, restaurants and cafes along with a "Subtropical Swimming Paradise" featuring water rides for all ages.
The development is expected to be completed in 2019.
In granting permission, An Bord Pleanála has included 21 conditions which include a requirement for a biodiversity action plan and a financial contribution from the developer towards public infrastructure. It also stipulates that the holiday lodges must only be used for short-term tourist accommodation.
An Bord Pleanála says the developer will also have to pay a financial contribution to the local council in respect of public infrastructure and facilities in the area.
Center Parcs welcomed the decision to uphold the planning permission which was granted by Longford County Council last February.
"We warmly welcome approval from An Bord Pleanála to proceed with our plans to develop Center Parcs Longford Forest," said chief executive Martin Dalby "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.
“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,” he said.
Following the successful conclusion of the planning process, Center Parcs will now move to the procurement phase of the project, which will be followed by construction.
Center Parcs Longford Forest will have capacity for up to 2,500 guests and employ up to 1,000 people. “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,” the company said.
Center Parcs estimates that, when operational, the new holiday village will add approximately €32 million to Ireland’s GDP per annum.
The company said Center Parcs Longford Forest will have a dedicated team of conservation rangers who will protect thewoodland.