Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Holiday heartbreak as caravan park closes

THE summer holiday plans of hundreds of families were in tatters yesterday following confirmation that a popular caravan park is to be sold after a long-running planning saga.

Management at Power’s Caravan Park in Duffcarrick, Ardmore, Co Waterford, confirmed yesterday they are putting their park on the market tomorrow, with a €7 million price tag, following a decision from An Bord Pleanála.

Owners Thomas and John Power said the park was no longer financially viable and they had no other option but to close.

They have given their 166 clients until June 6 to vacate the premises. Thomas Power declined to comment yesterday.

The decision came despite An Bord Pleanála ruling that the pair did not have to pay a €141,000 development contribution sought by Waterford County Council.

A board inspector said the amount was unreasonable. But the board did suggest that some amount, to be agreed between the Powers and the council, be paid in respect of improvement works to the public water supply and public sewerage systems serving Ardmore.

They also ruled that major landscaping was needed around the park.

The ruling stems from major renewal works carried out on the site in recent years, including the installation of service roads, public lighting, water supply and sewage works. The Powers applied to the council for planning retention for these works, which was granted last April with four conditions.

One of the conditions stipulated they pay a development contribution, understood to be in the region of €141,000, towards the cost of upgrades to public water and sewage treatment plant serving Ardmore.

But the Powers appealed this condition to An Bord Pleanála. The board was due to rule last December, but the decision was deferred a number of times.

The Powers wrote to their clients in January saying they would not be in a position to accept renewals for this year’s holiday season pending the outcome from the board.

Thomas Power said, at the time, he was playing a waiting game and assured clients that closing the caravan park was not being considered.

Despite the reassurance, the Powers said that, following the board decision and having consulted with their tax advisers, legal team, accountants and engineers, it was decided that the costs were prohibitive.

“This decision has not been easy for us to make as our family have been involved in the tourism business in Ardmore for over 40 years,” they said in a letter to clients.

“We hope that you can understand that we had no option in this situation.”

The Ardmore Holiday Home Residents’ Association criticised the decision yesterday and the speed at which residents have been asked to leave.

The holiday home owners said they were never asked to increase their €1,200 annual fee, which could have helped meet the development charges. Neither were they given enough time to consider a buyout of the site, a spokesman said.

He said the park should remain open this year to give residents more time to consider their options.

But the Powers are standing firm on their decision. They took over running the caravan park from their parents, Richard, and the late Brigid, in the late 1990s. A caravan park has operated on the site since the 1950s.

Irish Examiner

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