Major plans to develop Woodstock Gardens
PLANS to develop a major outdoor activity attraction at Woodstock Gardens have been announced.
Kilkenny County Council has signed a new memorandum of agreement with Coillte regarding significant future plans for the beautiful 850 acre estate in Inistioge. The agreement allows the council to consider the entire south Kilkenny estate, incorporating both the council’s land holding of 50 acres and the surrounding Coillte forest and land of around 800 acres. It sets out the parameters for the assessment and development of a major tourism destination for the county.
At the January meeting of Kilkenny County Council, chief executive Colette Byrne confirmed the development to members. She said it had the potential to deliver considerable social and economic benefits to the wider community.
‘We will now create a tender specification for the procurement of specialist services to develop a draft business plan for the Woodstock Estate which sets out all the opportunities and issues relating to the development and management of the site as a major tourism facility,’ the chief executive said in her monthly report.
‘ The procurement process will be commenced immediately in consultation with Coillte.’
Ms Byrne also says there will be community consultation with ‘ key stakeholders and interest groups’ during the assessment process. Mayor of Kilkenny Michael Doyle, who is from Inistioge, welcomed the chief executive’s commitment in relation to Woodstock.
Coillte will retain ownership of its lands and operations. The memorandum will expire after three years, or the signing of a new agreement.
Head winter gardener at Woodstock, John Delaney said the garden has been open since 1999 and attracts around 40,000 people per year. A team of six gardeners, along with contracted clearance workers and tree surgeons, worked on the project on the estate which was vacated by the Tighe family in 1914. Currently Woodstock has 14km of pathways which many walkers and hikers avail of. Inistioge village is expected to benefit from the plans. ‘ The town and the estate are separate to an extent, but for tourism the gardens are a huge boost locally.’
Woodstock is open year round and with plans to develop the 800 acres beside it, Kilkenny County Council expects to attract increasing numbers into the area for outdoor leisure pursuits. The winter garden is being restored over the coming weeks. ‘We try to do a project a year. We hope to expand the play area but with the damage from Storm Ophelia we’ve been very busy with a lot of repair work to do. An orienteering station was erected at the gardens last year which is proving very popular with school groups and youths. It’s a great way to keep fit.’
Woodstock Gardens, Inistioge.