Ballybeg leisure village is “ideal”

Eoghan Dalton Reports
Plans for a massive leisure centre in Ballybeg have been welcomed as the ideal development for the community by local Councillors.
Cllr Jason Murphy (FF) is based in the area and says the multi-use leisure village would bring upwards of 200 jobs. He told members that the land had “raised a number of challenges going back many years. We have 1,200 social houses in Ballybeg…and we have planning permission for a further huge number of housing in that area. One thing we’re missing there, I suppose, is a leisure offering.”
The 30-acre, €996,000 site in Ballybeg, surrounding the Tesco store in the area, would include activities such as zip-lines, go-karting, archery and a firing range. Jump Lanes is the company behind the proposal and it has similar adventure centres in Galway, Limerick and Derry. Waterford Council’s CEO Michael Walsh says the developer is intent on making an application in the next two months.
Mr Walsh explained how there is a “tight timeframe” on the development, and that the land will revert back to Waterford City and County Council (WCCC) if the developer doesn’t complete the project. He confirmed that if this did happen, the site must be for “leisure use only” in the case of future developments.
WCCC also heard further potential activities for the site, including tracks for drifting and sulky racing. Cllr Jim Griffin (SF) said the council should welcome any by-laws that ban sulkys from primary roads, while preparing for life after such legislation is introduced.

“I just wanted to ask if it’s a private company, that they might not engage with that particular area or people of our community and might they consider putting in that type of a track?
“If you look at sulky racing overseas, it’s a massive development when it’s done well and it’s a real big earner. That area of Ballybeg holds a lot of the guys who have the sulkies and I have no doubt they’re going to be looking for something to take part in and I think it could be the perfect fit if we got the right people into it from the start.” Director of Planning Michael Quinn said he would refer the idea to the developers, against the backdrop of laughter from some Councillors.
However, concerns were raised by Cllr John Cummins (FG) in relation to noise levels from a potential drifting track. While welcoming the development, he explained how residents in Foxwood have made representations to him and wondered how crucial a drifting track would be to the overall proposal. Cllr Murphy responded:
“I have no doubt that is causing some concern. But I just want to confirm that is not a make-or-break for this development. There is no planning gone in as of yet, and we are at the initial stages of this proposal.”

Mr Quinn later confirmed that it was early days for the project, with many more discussions to be had for what it would offer upon completion. However, he noted that “layout of the site should prevent noise levels getting out of hand”.
“In very brief discussions initially, sound controls were seen as something that would be looked at if they were going to go down that particular route. It’s actually a sloping site and if they were going to put in a track, it’d help to contain the noise…[The developer] is very conscious of it. They are looking at a number of different locations where this is done in urban. But I don’t see the drifting as a key element of their overall proposition, it is simply one possible activity they might have,” Mr Quinn said.

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