By Finian Coghlan

A PLAN by a Kildare town couple to develop their family farm into an agri-tourism and glamping venture is broadly supported by the new County Development Plan, according to their consultant engineers.

In a letter to the Planning Department last month, Declan Kearns and Associates said: “The new CDP supports their application to develop an agri-tourism, glamping, and cycling business on their farm”.(Objective 98 of the new CDP wants to: “identify strategic sites capable of accommodating new tourism ventures, while also insuring the preservation of the natural landscape of the area”.)

The consultant was speaking of James and Emer O’Dwyer from Tully East, a little south of the town, who expect a decision on their application in early May, for an improvement on the farm they’ve been working for a quarter of a century.

The couple applied last month to convert a 20-year-old stable block into a “glamping [glamorous camping] pod”, to construct a further three, to erect bicycle storage, and to use their existing certified organic livestock farm as an attraction to holidaymakers.

“I want to provide full-time employment for my wife Emer and myself, and part-time for my family, which has five children,” said James in his application.

“My present position in the peat industry will be finishing due to climate change and company policy,” he said.

“We will be diversifying our farm into social farming, engage full-time in agri-tourism…and expand our farming to include sheep, hens, ducks, pigs and fish,” he said.

James and Emer also plan to turn their woodland into a bird reserve and also have a pond with a stock of fish, and a duck habitat.

They have also proposed leaving a two-metre wide wild perimeter around the whole farm “devoted to biodiversity”, and the conversion of their herd from imported Angus, to native breeds like Dexter’s, Kerry, and the Irish Moiled.

They have promised daily farm walks for their visitors, as well as to the local raised bog, Kildoon Wood, and all the established attractions within 3Kms of their 10Ha (27ac) farm – which also has a river flowing through it.

A decision is expected before 10 May.

published 2023-04-14 15:31:39