Planning sought for new glamping site in Cadamstown

A new glamping facility could be on its way to the picturesque Slieve Bloom region, according to planning documents which have been lodged with Offaly County Council.

A company called Slieve Bloom Escapes Ltd is seeking permission for a glamping/camping site at Pidgeonstown, Cadamstown, to include glamping pods, a camping area, service building, entrance, parking and wastewater treatment system, provision of vehicular passing bays on the approach road, and all associated siteworks.

The location of the proposed development is a large townland which borders the R421 road linking both Kinnitty and Cadamstown and comes close to parts of Kinnitty Forest.

The planning documents outline proposals for four self-contained glamping pods and a camp/tent pitch for two units on the site, with a common shower and toilet facility catering for camping visitors and general site visitors. The administration building/office will contain a board games and book swap facility for visitors, and there is “no proposal” to provide a common/recreational area, common cooking/dining facilities or to provide barbeque facilities.

10 vehicle parking spaces are to be provided on site, including two larger accessible parking spaces, and space will also be provided for the storage of 16 cycles.

The planning application is accompanied by a letter from Offaly Tourism Marketing expressing support for the proposed accommodation project in Cadamstown.

The chaiperson of the group, Philip O'Brien, states that Offaly has a “lower level of tourism accommodation capacity” than neighouring counties, and adds that there is “a great need” for more accommodation options for visitors. He points out that “a sustainable approach” to growing bed capacity is required with Offaly Tourism Marketing seeing a demand for “non-mainstream forms of accommodation” such as glamping and unique self-catering.

The letter adds that the newly proposed development by Slieve Bloom Escapes at Pidgeonstown, Cadamstown “will fill this void in the market” while also complementing the tourism offering in Offaly which is “specifically focused on 'getting active in nature' leading to increased visitors and increased dwell time in our county.”

A letter from Offaly Local Development Company states that the applicants have submitted an Expression of Interest Form for funding to develop a glamping facility on their lands.

The letter states that the project is “in keeping” with the Local Development Strategy for Offaly and is “being considered” for Leader funding.

A28-page Natura Impact Statement, which accompanies the planning application, concludes that the likielihood of any impacts on Hen Harriers arising from the proposed development are “unlikely” but adds that mitigration measures have been proposed to ensure there are “no residual impacts” on the Slieve Bloom mountains Special Protection Area (SPA).

Among the mitigation measures proposed are that any site clearance or major works be undertaken outside of the nesting season; that consideration be given to restricting the use of lighting during dark hours, and that motion sensor lighting be considered, and that a code of practice be prepared for all visitors coming to the site.

The code should include measures to minimise disturbance such as loud music and antisocial behaviour, and the keeping of all dogs on leads. The report further recommends that guidance be given to cyclists and hikers on minimising disturbance while they are using the cycling or hiking trails through the Slieve Blooms.

The report also concludes that the proposed development will not result in the loss of sensitive habitat, is not suitable nesting or foraging habitat for Hen Harrier and is “sufficiently geographically separated” from suitable nesting habitat areas “the closest of which is c.3.2km from the development site.”

A report prepared by Brian England, Design and Draughting Services in Cloughjordan, Tipperary on behalf of the applicants states that “every possible measure” will be taken by Slieve Bloom Escapes Ltd to ensure the protection of the environment, and adds that “specific consideration” has been taken to protect Hen Harriers and other protected species. “The small scale and nature of the proposed development is such that it can be assimilated within the environment without damage or harm” according to the report.

The report also states that the building units will be manufactured “off site” as a modular building, and that their appearance will “not be obtrusive or impact adversely on the landscape or the visual amenity of the area.”

Slieve Bloom Escapes Ltd submitted a planning application for eight glamping pods to Offaly County Council in November 2021 on a site at Pidgeonstown, Cadamstown, but the application was withdrawn less than a year later, in October 2022.

Offaly County Council is due to make a decision on the current planning application by April 29 next.