Sunday 16 June 2019

Go-ahead for Avondale plans

Redevelopment plans will create enhanced visitor experience

Cllr Pat Kennedy outside Avondale House
Cllr Pat Kennedy outside Avondale House

Myles Buchanan

The development of improved visitor facilities at Avondale Forest Park has been given the green light and will provide huge economic benefits to Rathdrum, according to local Councillor Pat Kennedy.

Wicklow County Council granted planning permission on Monday for enhanced visitor facilities, including tree top walkways which will take visitors under and through the trees and a raised timber lattice offering stunning viewpoints high over the valley.

Coillte lodged a planning application in October.

Avondale Forest Park is considered the birthplace of Irish Forestry while Avondale House is the birthplace of Irish nationalist politician Charles Stewart Parnell. The estate was sold to the Government in 1904 and was used as a forestry school.

Cllr Pat Kennedy feels the new development will provide a boost to the whole of Wicklow.

'It's great news not just for Rathdrum but for the whole county. I think Rathdrum has really turned the corner now. We have funding to put in place lighting from the Garda Station to Mill Bridge and have received over €390,000 to build a bridge over the Avonmore River. Avondale receiving planning is just the icing on the cake. This should provide a real boost to the local economy. Avondale forest Park has a long and historical connection to Rathdrum and this development will only help strengthen those links'.

The proposed development will comprise a subterranean orientation space including toilets and an orientation tower 21m in height, a walking trail totalling 218m comprising sunken pathways, tunnels and elevated timber lattice walkways through the tree canopy and a timber lattice constructed lookout over the Avonmore River valley to a maximum of 35m in height with associated access stairs and elevator.

There will also be ground, first floor and mezzanine extensions to the existing venue facility, the refurbishment, extension and change of use of the existing outbuildings to a new café and associated kitchen and toilet facilities and associated electricity substation and switch room.

Pathways and trails will be upgraded and internal refurbishment works to Avondale House will take place, mainly partial electrical upgrade and localised repairs of the roof. The upgrading of the existing car park will include the provision of a new overflow car park of 250 car park spaces, 50 cycle parking spaces and five bus and coach drop offs. The plans also involve the demolition of accommodation block utilised for the training and education of staff, a flat roofed shed and a number of lean to structures associated with the outbuildings.

Wicklow People