‘Thus far shalt thou go’ – plans to develop Charles Stewart Parnell’s Wicklow estate stumped
Plans to redevelop one of Wicklow’s most historic and beautiful destinations into one of the country’s leading tourist attractions have been chopped down.
Avondale Forest Park, the site of the former home of Charles Stewart Parnell and also the birthplace of Irish Forestry, now owned by Coillte who lodged plans with Wicklow County Council recently to create an €8 million visitors’ centre.
Now the national forestry service has been told their ambitious plans for the 550-acre haven just south of Rathdrum are invalid and to remove all notices regarding the plans.
Wicklow County Council has deemed the planning permission invalid after discovering Coillte intended carrying out works on Avondale House itself, which is a protected structure.
In the planning application, Coillte failed to acknowledge Avondale House’s protected status.
In their response to the proposal, Wicklow County Council said: “I am to inform you that the Planning Authority consider that the application does not comply with the requirements of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001.
“Where the application relates to development which will consist of or comprise the carrying out of works to a protected structure or proposed protected structure, an indication of that fact (is required). In this instance as works are being proposed within the curtilage of a protected structure, this fact should be referred to in the newspaper notice and site notice,” the planning authority concluded.
Under the plans submitted for the more than 350 year old park and house, Coillte intended creating a state-of-the-art visitors centre with two main exhibitions; ‘At Home with the Parnell’s’, an in-depth journey of the life and times of Charles Stewart Parnell and family at Avondale House and ‘The Evolution of Forestry,’ which looks at the history of the forest park and Irish forestry.
A café and restaurant, a lattice walkway, a 360-degree forest-top canopy with views of the Wicklow Mountains and Avonmore Valley, toilets and changing facilities, a new disabled carpark, as well as new staff facilities were all put before the local authority as part of the plans.
It was hoped to open the new visitors’ centre sometime in mid-2021.
Coillte has the opportunity to amend the application and resubmit their plans to the local authority.