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Thumbs-up for exciting state-of-the-art outdoor pursuits park in south Armagh

A new and unique camping park – geared towards those interested in outdoor pursuits and activities – will be built in the heart of south Armagh.

The development, in Camlough, has now been granted planning approval by officials from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

It will be a further boost to the facilities and allow visitors yet another way of exploring the stunning local beauty.

The ambitious proposals – which also include a cafe and shop – were first revealed by Armagh I last November.

They were drawn up by a local architect and submitted in the name of Karl Toner, who had an address listed in Sydney Australia!

Kayaking, mountain biking and angling will be on offer when work is completed on site.

Overlooking one of south Armagh’s most breathtaking assets, Camlough Lake, along the Newtown Road, a total of six camping pods – taking the form of log-style cabins – will be built, and each will have its own parking port alongside.

There will also be provision for up to a dozen tent pitches.

The recent drive in south Armagh is all geared towards tourism and bringing in visitors to this area. There are other ambitious proposals around Camlough Lake in the pipeline too and an application currently under consideration for additional ‘glamping’ pods in the Crossmaglen area.

The Camlough park site will allow visitors to sample a taste of the great outdoors in an idyllic setting.

Campers – whether renting pods or choosing to sleep out under canvas – will have use of a communal common room.

Alongside the pods the youngsters would have access to a new children’s play area. All mod cons are included too – kitchen, showers, toilets and laundry facilities.

A shop – described as having an “agricultural feel” – will be central to the overall plans.

Users will be able to hire equipment for use in outdoor pursuits – such as mountain biking and fishing – directly on site.

And the new park will also see the provision of a café offering a wide range of refreshments.

Following a meeting in June, some modifications were made to the design of the access for the new site.

No objections to the overall development were raised by TransportNI or Environmental Health or any of the other agencies contacted, neither were there any from members of the public.

According to the professional planning official – who has considered the application since submitted almost a year ago – the site is well shielded.

The report, which went back to councillors and indicated approval of the plans, states that mature trees would provide an “effective screen of existing vegetation that would prevent most of the existing buildings from being visible from the road and from the viewpoint on Sturgan Brae”.

During the course of considerating the application a number of concerns and issues had come to light.

One of these was the cafe, which it was stated had the “potential to cause the most long-term impact of the scheme, especially if the cafe proves to be a bigger attraction than the glamping facility”.

But it was not an insurmountable issue, as the official ruled that “adequate servicing for the cafe can be required by conditions”.

With approval now given, the applicant will be in a position to move ahead and provide facilities which will enhance the local tourism product and bring more people to the area.

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