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Contract awarded to oversee new running, walking, cycling and horse-riding trails at Gosford

Trails just one element of £1.5m plan to create top forest park tourist mecca

Work on the exciting £1.5 million redevelopment of Gosford Forest Park into a leading tourist attraction and activities base should get underway shortly.

Armagh I can reveal that a team has this week been appointed which will oversee the delivery of the ‘trails’ element of the ambitious plans.

Co Antrim-based architects R Robinson & Sons Limited has been awarded a six-month contract by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

As the new consultant project management team, they will oversee the implementation of a multi-use trail at Gosford.

In all, a total of 46 kms of what has been described as “a multi-use, sustainable off-road, non bitmac trail system” will be woven throughout Gosford.

This will include walking trails, off-road family cycling, running and horse-riding.

The actual work on the trails element – which will cost in excess of £500,000 to deliver – also went out to tender with the deadline now passed, and again an appointment therefore should be made shortly.

An integrated consultancy team will be assembled to ensure the successful implementation of the project.

A partnership between the ABC Council and Outdoor Recreation NI for the development is already in place.

It was in April 2016 that Armagh I revealed the redevelopment of Gosford Forest Park into a top family tourist attraction would cost over £1.5 million.

In addition to the trails, the massive scheme would include a visitor centre and cafe, improved accommodation facilities for visitors including camping, caravanning and log cabins – as well as a Gulliver-themed play trail for families – at a cost of £1,526,676, almost double initial estimates.

Other proposals included picnic areas being developed around the visitor ‘hub’ and main car park, and seating installed around the play car park and walking trails.

Car parking provision on site would be extended.

The toilets at the car park site – where there is already in place a children’s play area – would be upgraded and further toilets installed at a youth campsite.

The news of the extra investment required came just two months after Outdoor Recreation NI, commissioned by the legacy council to assess the site’s tourism potential, revealed Gosford, with investment, could become “one of the top five forest parks in Northern Ireland”.

Council officers later visited Moors Valley and Alice Holt parks in England to examine further possibilities as to what could be established at the Markethill beauty spot.

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