The transfer of the world-famous Mount Congreve Gardens to public ownership is to be fast-tracked, 21 years ahead of schedule.

Subject to formal approval of what’s already been agreed in principal, the sprawling Suirside domain is to be handed over to the State with plans for new tourism-related facilities creating up to 120 jobs.

It was previously agreed that the gardens would be handed over to the State 21 years after the death of its owner, Mr Ambrose Congreve, who is now aged 103.

However, talks are currently underway to ensure that the transfer takes place without delay, with the responsibility for the gardens expected to go to the National Botanic Gardens.

Waterford Fine Gael Senator Paudie Coffey said last night that the development is great news for Waterford and the southeast region.

It’s his understanding that talks have made substantial progress and there is a real likelihood of an integrated tourism development now proceeding.

In 2008 a masterplan was submitted to Waterford County Council for the estate. It outlined a vision for the longer-term development of a separate 350 acres of the property as a resort, including a 180-bed hotel and spa, along with a 40-berth marina, ‘country pursuits’ centre, and Victorian-style holiday homes.

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