Permission for 30 Tramore holiday apartments at Celtworld site criticised

 

Local politicians reacted with outrage yesterday to a decision by An Bord Pleanala to allow holiday apartments to be built on the site of the failed Celtworld tourist attraction in Tramore, Co Water ford.

Waterford County Council had rejected the plan by the site's owner, Mr Phelim McCloskey, of Mosney Holiday Centre, to add an extra storey to the property and convert it into 36 holiday apartments.

However, to the consternation of local councillors who claim the town is being destroyed by a proliferation of holiday homes, An Bord Pleanala has given the go-head for a reduced-scale, 30-apartment development.

The controversy is not the first involving Celtworld, a £4 million "mythology centre" which opened in 1992 but proved to be a financial disaster. It closed three years later, having received £1.8 million in EU grants. A European Commission investigation into the project is ongoing. Mr McCloskey bought the property for £380,000 after Celtworld collapsed.

An independent county councillor from the area, Ms Betty Twomey, said she was "devastated" by An Bord Pleanala's decision. "I am totally and utterly shocked, but we are not going to let it go at that. We're going to do all we can to stop it," she added.

Ms Twomey said the facility should be retained as an amenity of some kind, such as an indoor sports complex. When developments already under way were completed, the town - which has a population of 6,500 - would have 600 holiday homes, she said.

The board's decision, issued on Tuesday, specifies that the apartments shall be used for short-term tourist accommodation only.

Mr Ben Gavin, a Fianna Fail member of Tramore Town Commissioners, said he was "quite outraged" by the board's decision. "This is an easy way out. It doesn't develop the tourism product in Tramore at all."

A meeting of the Dail Committee of Public Accounts was told as long ago as 1997 that the European Commission investigation into Celtworld was nearing completion.