Ma­jor plans to de­velop Wood­stock Gar­dens

New Ross Standard - - NEWS - By DAVID LOOBY

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.

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