£5.1m plan for Gosford Park

Parking problems at Gosford Forest Park. INPT19-261.
Parking problems at Gosford Forest Park. INPT19-261.

A £5.1m investment package aims to catapult Gosford Forest Park into a world class tourist attraction, new plans have revealed.

Hot on the heels of a £600k regeneration programme to develop 16k of walking and cycling trails launched just last month, the popular forest park is earmarked for a major makeover.

Park of the plan is a new £2.1 million visitor centre which will include a cafe.

Plus there are plans for an adventure play trail, and ‘multi-use’ trails – for walking, cycling, running and horses.

Car parking has been a bone of contention at Gosford Forest Park and there are plans to extend the existing car park from 123 to 177 spaces, plus add an ‘overflow’ car park of around 325 spaces.

A ‘pay and display’ system for parking, charged at existing rates, will be installed at a cost in excess of £50,000.

Plans are afoot also to spend an extra £3,000 on ‘parking prevention infrastructure’ – thought to be targetting those parking on the main road at the park’s entrance. New signage will feature throughout the forest park. Also landscaping costing around £250k.

The matter is still deemed ‘confidential’ by Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council so no information was forthcoming.

It is understood councillors at Monday night’s Leisure Committee were given a presentation by a firm called Outreach Recreation NI and Cogent Magnagement Consulting LLP

The final report is due before the full council meeting later this month. And the final options for what would be included went before Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s leisure committee on Monday night.

Sources revealed that ratepayers could be dishing out £4.2m of capital funding for the plans with the council seeking external funding of £1m.

It is understood it will cost the council around £188k annually to maintain the new developed park in the first year rolling down to £74k in the fifth year.

Ulster Unionist Cllr Jim Speers who lives close to the forest said he had been campaigning for years for better facilities at the park and welcomed any future investment.