A major £750,000 tourist development plan at Slieve Gullion Forest Park – including an outdoor event venue within the walled garden – could be on the cards.
An expression of interest for rural development funding has been looked upon favourably, with Newry, Mourne and Down Distict Council now invited to make a formal bid.
And it will decide at its enterprise, regeneration and tourism committee on Monday afternoon whether or not to proceed.
The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs could contribute up to £500,000 if successful. And the council would then provide £250,000.
A full application would have to be submitted before the end of August.
The hope is to fund two particular elements.
The outdoor space would include tiered seating, landscaping within the walled garden, a stage and purpose-built event area. It would see audio-visual enhancements made to allow performances to be staged, and there would be improved access to the car park, courtyard and Giants Lair.
There are also major enhancements planned for the Giants Lair too, with innovative technology and interpretation proposed.
According to a report to committee: “The project will significantly enhance the visitor experience of the Giants Lair walking trail through the utilisation of interpretation and immersive technology.
“These improvements will be designed to enhance the sensory and emotional connection of visitors to the beautiful natural environment that Slieve Gullion offers.”
The overall capital project will also include improved signage and interpretation across the entire site.
At the same time, the council will continue to seek funding for the development of Chambre House.
And proposals are currently being finalised for the redevelopment of Delamont Country Park, which will go to committee for consideration in the coming months.
The committee has been told that the Slieve Gullion proposals are “part of the overall vision to develop our tourism infrastructure across the district, with particular emphasis on our tourism facilities and outdoor spaces”.
Monday’s meeting will be asked to agree to undertake the “required procurements exercise” to prepare a full funding submission, and that this bid be made before August 31.