A ‘WORLD-CLASS’ development is what a team of architects will be asked to design for the Wild Atlantic Way Signature Discovery Point at Keem Bay on Achill Island.
The discovery point for Keem Bay has been dogged by delays since it was first announced by Minister Michael Ring in 2015 and Mayo County Council have faced criticism on the island for the lack of progress.
The matter was raised at last week’s monthly meeting of the West Mayo Municipal District where the council’s Head of Tourism Pádraig Philbin admitted the project had ran into difficulties but stressed some were ‘outside our control’.
However, he confirmed they were now in the process of tendering for environmental consultants and expected an architectural team to design the project to be in place by the end of the month.
“Once we have that team in place that is the real start of the Keem Bay Discovery Point,” he said.
Mr Philbin explained that they wanted a ‘world-class’ design but added that due to the location of the project, they need to ensure it is done properly.
“We want a design that is world-class which works for Achill and works for the county. It is going to be an exciting scheme and we want to get this right. The smallest thing could make this really popular and the smallest thing done wrong could destroy it,” he explained.
Director of Services, Catherine O’Connell told the councillors that they believed that the final planning decision will be taken out of the council’s hands and will be made by An Bord Pleanála.
Achill councillor Paul McNamara, who has been critical by the lack of progress on the project, welcomed that there was now a plan in place. He said when completed it will bring Achill to the ‘next level’ as a tourism destination.
“If we keep the momentum that we spoke about today, the people in the area will know the project is going ahead. A €4 million investment into Achill will bring the area up to one of the top places to go to in Ireland along with the likes of Killarney. It has it all, the Wild Atlantic Way, five blue flag beaches and a tourism project like this will bring it up to the next level,” he said.
Cllr McNamara also asked for monthly updates on the project’s progress at the municipal district meetings and this was agreed by council officials.
Independent councillor Michael Holmes said the project still had a lot of ‘hoops to go through’ before it can get permission and it was important that everything was done right to ensure no problems emerge.
“While we see this in a positive way, there are others who look at this in a negative way. They will be quick on the ball to point out something wrong,” he warned.
“It will be a while before it is complete but when it is it will be the jewel in the crown and I don’t think there will be anything in the west of Ireland to touch it.”