Controversial TD Michael Lowry today expressed his delight with the An Bord Pleanala decision to give the go-ahead to a Las Vegas-style casino hub in Co Tipperary and said it will bring major investment and jobs to the area.
Despite the current economic climate, he expressed confidence that there will be funding for the €460m venue, complete with a life-size replica of the White House, horse and greyhound tracks and a chapel, .
Developer Richard Quirke “is already funding the next stage of the project, the infrastructure, which is likely to cost €30m... and has been in discussions with a number of keenly interested international investors,” he said.
Mr Lowry has strongly backed the project near Two-Mile Borris, from its conception. When complete it will boast the largest hotel in Ireland at 500 beds, a health spa, a swimming pool, a health spa and an 18-hole golf course.
He said the development would create '2,000 sustainable jobs', and at least 1,000 construction jobs during its creation, which is expected to take three years.
However, Mr Lowry accepted that the entire project is dependent on the Oireachtas passing new legislation updating the state's gaming legislation, but expressed his confidence that the changes will take place.
Plans for a money-spinning 15,000-capacity concert hall have been rejected with An Bord Pleanala warning it was inappropriate considering the rural location.
The Tipperary deputy said the planning decision would help unleash the enormous potential of the site.
"In the context of stated Government policy to encourage creativity and job creation, this is a timely opportunity to progress an original plan which will generate enormous economic activity and create thousands of sustainable jobs," he said.
"A combination of a broad range of interactive projects on the one site will transform the economic, cultural and social life of Tipperary and the entire region."
Renowned racehorse trainer Aidan O'Brien backs the plan and suggested it will eventually be a rival to host the United States' multimillion-dollar Breeders' Cup fixture.
The site, 9km from Thurles, is being planned in true Las Vegas style with a church with an 18m-high steeple and a replica of the White House, known as the Hoban Memorial Building in honour of architect James Hoban, and including a reproduction of Lafayette Park, the grounds at the from of the US President's residence.
The sports and gaming facilities will include all-weather horse racing and greyhound tracks and a 6,000 square metre casino in the hotel.
The plan is subject to 32 conditions and will also depend on reform of gaming laws.
The eight-storey hotel, four times the size of its nearest rival The Burlington in Dublin, will house the huge casino, two ballrooms, four restaurants, two bars, conference and meeting rooms and six shops.
Outside there will be a heliport big enough for four aircraft to land, shops, conference facilities and parking for more than 6,000 cars, buses, horse and greyhound boxes.
According to An Bord Pleanala, the huge development will include diversion and culverting of parts of the Derheen and Clover rivers and a new four-arm roundabout on the R639 and link road to the M8 motorway at Two-Mile Borris.
Planners said the planned music venue could not be allowed because of the rural location and poor public transport links. Planners said it was unsustainable to have cars as the primary mode of transport in the area and said the venue would be better off in a large town.
The development was opposed by An Taisce and several individuals but backed by Joe Hernon, of Coolmore Stud, Austin Broderick, Thurles Chamber, Damian McDonald, Horse Sport Ireland, Brian Keating, Shannon Development and Adrian Neilan, Irish Greyhound Board.
The Department of Justice launched a review of gaming laws last December in what was seen as an attempt to tap in to the huge online betting market.
It also noted the prospects for a resort casino and the huge employment boost it could bring but warned that new laws were needed and it would not get any special support from the State.