Plans for new self-catering glamping accommodation in the shadow of Gullion have been given the go-ahead.
After careful consideration, planning officials at Newry, Mourne and Down District Council have agreed that the scheme – described as a “significant local investment” – can proceed.
Renowned local craft exponents Padraig Carragher and Sharon Donnelly operate studios out of a converted mill building at Tullymacreeve Road in Mullaghbawn, offering visitors workshops and masterclasses, in woodturning and art, respectively.
And from the homestead, in conjunction with Matthews Coaches and the Cross Square Hotel, the Carragher-Donnelly residence also hosts cookery demonstrations of traditional Irish cooking and baking with a backdrop of Slieve Gullion.
The couple applied earlier this year for approval to extend the offering at their rural tourism enterprise.
A planning application was submitted for four ‘glamping pods’, each hand-crafted from timber and capable of sleeping two adults.
The proposal includes the provision of two shower/toilet enclosures, and the reuse of outbuildings would allow for communal kitchen and laundry facilities, as well as a games room, storage, office and toilets.
There would be car parking and cycle parking provided for visitors.
Planning officials have now recommended to councillors – and they in turn have accepted – that the proposals would suit.
The official report into the planning consideration had noted some concern at the “lack of mature screening”, but woodland planting, it states, will “ensure that the proposal will successfully integrate into the area” over time.
Funding has been granted by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for the creation of a broadleaf native woodland.
This involves the planting of 22,000 trees on a farm holding and is described as a “significant attraction in its own right”.
The ‘glamping’ pods – crafted in County Kerry – are described as being “beautifully and aesthetically pleasing” and represent “tasteful and bespoke self-catering accommodation”.
The professional planning report states: “Having considered the nature and scale of the development within its existing setting I feel that the glamping pods and ancillary structure can be absorbed into the area without adversely impacting the rural character and this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”
In relation to lighting, it is pointed out that this will only be on the basis of public lighting into the courtyard, while “non obtrusive low level solar lighting will line the pathways to guide the public”.
The glamping pods will be arranged “informally” and will be separated by tree planting and low rise natural stone walls.
Overall planners were satisfied that the development would not detrimentally impact on the area and are happy to allow the husband and wife team to press ahead.
Picture: Proposed 3D model of the glamping pods which have now been approved.