Center Parcs is to spend €85m expanding its forest resort in Co Longford, with the creation of 250 permanent jobs once the development is complete.

It said 200 additional accommodation lodges are to be built, including four luxury tree houses, while existing guest facilities are to be extended at the Ballymahon resort.

The company also said 300 temporary positions are to be created during the construction phase of the project.

Site surveying and design is to begin immediately and the company hopes to submit a planning application to Longford County Council by the end of the year.

If permission is granted next year, Center Parcs hopes to be able to begin construction in 2023.

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Center Parcs Longford opened in July 2019 and despite being closed for much of the last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic the company claims it has had a great response from visitors.

1,000 people are permanently employed at the site and remained so during the pandemic.

Martin Dalby, CEO of Center Parcs UK and Ireland, said it feels that now is the right time to invest further in the resort.

He added that the expansion underlines Center Parcs' commitment to its business in Ireland.

Mr Dalby said forward bookings for the summer and into the autumn and winter are strong and that travel restrictions into the country were not affecting the number of visitors they can receive.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Mr Dalby said there are no plans to develop another resort and that Center Parcs Longford will be the only one in Ireland.

Mr Dalby said the construction work, which it hopes will begin in 2023, will not impact guests who are staying there, as they have lots of experience doing expansions on such sites in the UK.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD said it is fantastic news for Longford and for the Midlands.

"Center Parcs is a really valued employer in the area," he said.

"I know the company has made a huge effort to work with the local community and I'm sure that will continue with this further expansion, which will see €80m-€85m invested, 250 permanent jobs created and a further 300 during construction."