A Visitor Experience and Management Masterplan for Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains National Park has been commissioned by Fáilte Ireland, working with its strategic partners the Office of Public Works (OPW), National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and Coillte along with the National Monuments Service and Wicklow County Council,
The aim of the Masterplan is to improve the visitor experience in Co Wicklow and the consultant team, led by Consarc Design Group, are asking the public for their input into the project.
Public consultation will run from February 22nd to March 12th. Due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, this will mostly be facilitated through the Wicklow.ie Council Consultation website, with a series of Zoom virtual drop-in sessions with the consultant team, facilitated by the Paul Hogarth Company
There will be:
- Zoom ‘drop in’ sessions with the consultant team from 4pm to 8pm on Tuesday 23rd, February, Wednesday 3rd March and Thursday 11th March. These events will be booked through Eventbrite and more sessions will be added to meet demand. https://www.eventbrite.com/o/the-paul-hogarth-company-32440056885
- A posted leaflet circulated to residents in Glendalough and Laragh with email question option.
- Website Consultation on Wicklow.ie
- Survey Monkey Questionnaire
All the agencies involved are very keen to get as much public input as possible and submissions can also be made to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Glendalough and Wicklow Mountains National Park Masterplan covers the full range of visitor attractions and activities available in the area, with a particular focus on active outdoor activities – primarily walking and cycling, and the visitor experience in the Glendalough valley.
There is evidence to suggest that the significant increase in participation in outdoor activities, triggered by the COVID-19 restrictions, will be a permanent feature and it is going a long way to replace the temporary loss in international visitors as a result of the pandemic.
Research, surveys and the ongoing consultation process have identified a number of issues in relation to outdoor activities which are mirrored across all types of visitor experience including: congestion at key sites, concerns over security, capacity and quality of car parking and visitor services, issues with local access, and erosion and degradation of the environment.
The proposed solutions to those issues include dispersal of visitors to a wider variety of sites throughout the county, improving the capacity and sustainability of the most popular sites, and improving car parking and visitor services provision across the area.
A number of Visitor Experience Hubs have been identified around the county where there is a particular focus of visitor attractions, building on work in Wicklow County Council’s Outdoor Recreation Strategy and other initiatives. Development of these hubs will build capacity, encouraging longer stays and greater investment in the area.
In addition to these proposed ‘hubs’, there are established activity sites throughout the county, many of which need further development in order to become more sustainable. The team is developing detailed plans for walking, mountain biking and family cycling which will involve a mixture of enhancing and extending existing provisions, investing in environmental impact management and in new provisions, especially for off road family cycling.
The Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Cllr Pat Kennedy, strongly encourages Wicklow residents and those who like to visit Wicklow for outdoor recreation purposes to have their say. “Is it important to listen to the views of local residents and the wider community and to hear their thoughts and ideas on this plan which will shape the future of tourism in our County,” he stated.
Following the public consultation, Fáilte Ireland along with the OPW, NPWS, Coillte and National Monuments Service will review the responses and use them to shape draft proposals. These will be reviewed with Wicklow County Council and be the focus for a further period of public engagement that will inform refinement prior to finalisation.