€430m ski and leisure park fails to convince planners
AN ambitious proposal to build a new €430m leisure park featuring an artificial ski slope, concert arena and casino has been turned down by planners.
The project -- the 'Altitude' leisure and tourism park -- had been touted as a major attraction with the potential to draw more than one million visitors a year to the 32-acre site in Dundalk, Co Louth, close to the Dublin-Belfast M1 motorway.
However, following an appeal by Louth Environment Group, An Bord Pleanala refused permission on a number of grounds.
It said the scale of the development proposed -- which would attract 1.15 million visitors to Dundalk each year -- would result in an "unsustainable car-dependent development". The board deemed the development contrary to national transport policy, which seeks to cut private car travel.
The proposed development was also found to be in an area vulnerable to coastal flooding.
Innovative Leisure Systems, which were behind the project, had envisaged the park creating 1,200 full-time jobs when it was rolled out over seven years.
The businessmen behind the project -- Sam Curran and Pearse O'Hanrahan, a former Fianna Fail councillor in Dundalk -- had initially estimated Altitude would be completed by 2016.
A call to Mr O'Hanrahan and the firm that submitted the application went unreturned last night.
Mr Curran was also involved in delivering the Ice Dome skating rink in the town which later closed.
Heritage body An Taisce last night welcomed the decision to refuse the planning permission for the artificial ski slope and park.