PLANS are in motion to create a caravan park at the historic Necarne Estate in Irvinestown.
Two years ago the Council approved a 99-year lease to Gardrum Holdings Ltd for the development of the 230-acre estate, home to Castle Irvine, as a potential holiday retreat.
The plans put forward at the time centred on preserving and enhancing the property, and indicated the development could include accommodation, activities and event spaces.
Since taking over the running of the estate, Gardrum has hosted a number of events, including a leg of Show Jumping Ireland’s Autumn Pony League, the Fermanagh Harriers’ Point to Point, and Eventing Ireland National Horse Trials.
Now, it appears the company has plans to develop part of the estate as a caravan park.
In a report that was due to be delivered to the Council’s environmental services committee on Wednesday, it was recommended that the Council approves the granting of consent to Gardrum Holdings Ltd in respect a touring caravan site at the Necarne Estate.
“Gardrum Holdings Ltd holds a 99-year lease of Necarne Estate and, under the terms of the lease, a request has been received seeking Council consent for the submission of a planning application for the development of a touring caravan park,” the report stated.
“It is proposed the caravan park will comprise 23 touring caravan pitches and associated infrastructure, including road improvements and landscaping.
“The application site is an overspill car park located within the estate and it is the most northern and least utilised car park. The proposed touring caravan park will widen the attraction of Necane Estate and cater for overnight tourists to the area and it also forms part of the tenant’s development obligations under the terms of the lease.
“It is therefore appropriate for the Council to grant consent for the submission of a planning application.”
The granting of the lease to Gardrum in early 2020, after a lengthy discussion and tendering process, was not without controversy, with significant objections to the potential development. These included concerns from the many local walkers who frequent the estate daily, as well as questions about who would be paying for the upkeep of the 17th century, Grade B listed Castle Irvine, which had fallen into serious disrepair over the years.
Owned by the Council, the estate had previously been leased by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), which had previously held equestrian events at the estate and had been paying the upkeep for it facilities.
As part of its lease deal with Gardrum, it was agreed the Council would continue to meet the maintenance costs of the castle, and that it would carry out the any works needed to make the building safe.
Speaking at the time, Cllr Donal O’Cofaigh noted this would mean local rate payers would be funding the castle, while the private developer would be reaping the benefits.
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