Establishing a Boathouse in Villierstown

Establishing a boathouse in Villierstown was the idea of the local community group, Villierstown Education & Culture Project (VECP). The VECP recognised that there is huge potential to have a recreational and sailing facility at or near Villierstown Quay which leads directly to the River Blackwater.

Background:

The promoter, VECP, was established in May 2010 by members of the local community and with assistance from WLP CLG through the Community Facilitation training project. The group is a committed and proactive community based organisation with charitable status that wants to develop education, arts and culture facilities in Villierstown, Co Waterford. The River Blackwater is a key amenity within the area and throughout a series of Open Evenings, designed to stimulate ideas for development within the area, the development of a facility at the Quay was recurring. Establishing a Boat Club would provide the perfect platform to provide water-based activity in the area. Villierstown Quay is currently the only point on the river Blackwater between Youghal and Cappoquin with good access to suit water activities. The quay itself is owned and maintained by Waterford City & County Council and local fishermen and recreation users avail of the facility. The items required to establish the boat club were as follows:

-        A porta cabin with canteen and shower facilities;

-        Secure railing system

-        CCTV

-        Service Connection

-        Floating Pontoon

-        Sailing dinghies, canoes and safety equipment including wetsuits, booties and buoyancy aids.

Objective:

To utilise an existing facility, i.e. the river Blackwater which in turn will have positive impacts for the community of Villierstown and the surrounding area as follows:

-        Increase the overall tourism potential of the area

-        Provide a secure facility and the necessary equipment to allow people to train and develop their interest ins ailing

-        Allow the local group to work with other rowing and sailing clubs in the area to develop the River Blackwater brand.

Main Activities:

-        Providing sailing lessons on the River Blackwater

-        Promote safe use of river

-        Leisurely Boat trips

-        Hosting other groups

-        Ancillary services for river users, e.g. clubhouse/restroom facilities

Rationale & Process:

The local community group, VECP recognised the need to develop the facility in order to enhance the offering available. In order to achieve this, they first had to secure a site for porta cabin to be housed. The lands adjoining the quay are owned privately and the group approached the local landowners with their proposal. An agreement was reached between both parties the site was secured. The next step involved the planning process whereby the VECP applied for planning permission to develop the ancillary facilities and site which was subsequently granted. The VECP also had to conduct an AA screening report as the site is located within the designations associated with the Blackwater River and Estuary SAC. All of the above was conducted in conjunction with Local Authority and Waterford Leader Partnership

Resources Required:

The members of the VECP oversaw the project works from the site works to the selection of the porta cabin and the equipment that was required with the expertise of Union Chandlery.   Funding was sourced from Clann Credo and a grant of 75% from Waterford Leader Partnership. This system worked well from the client’s point of view and they were able to repay the loan on time.

Challenges Overcome:

There were many challenges to this project, stemming from the following:

-        VECP were a relatively new group that had been recently established

-        They had a very dynamic working group involved with this project who had set clear objectives from the outset

-        Land acquisition formed a big part of the project and in order for it to succeed

-        The whole planning process and the fact that the project was in an SAC was a new challenge for the group to overcome

-        The match funding element was difficult as while there are a number of local fundraising initiatives in place in the community, there are other groups which draw from this funding also.

Results:

A dynamic business has been established in a rural area which works with the amenities on offer, i.e. the River Blackwater. There is huge scope and potential for further development in this sector going forward which can be seen from the growing numbers using the facilities on a daily basis through sailing lessons, summer camps and boat trips.

Lessons Learned:

LEADER funding through the Rural Development Programme made it possible for the development to go ahead. The scarcity of credit available to community groups would have made it difficult to go ahead without the LEADER funding. The tenacity of the group is testament to the development that now exists at the Villierstown Quay for both visitor and local alike. THE VECP has also become affiliated with the Irish Sailing Association which has allowed them to become a viable Boat Club. With this association, the Boat club can now carry out the following:

-Provide ISA approved training courses (children and adults)

- allow people to develop their interest in sailing

- Allow Villierstown to host sailing events in a safe and secure environment

- Allow Villierstown to work with other clubs in the area to develop the tourist potential of the area.

Additional Information:

It is believed by the VECP that their ideas and proposals will make a difference to the local and wider area by utilising a natural amenity that to date has been underutilised. The development of the Boat club has opened up access to the river Blackwater; there are now additional resources available to visitors coming to the area with the Boat club facility along with pontoon access to the river. There are many opportunities to be availed of and further challenges to be overcome as the group moves forward.

Further information is available on www.vecp.ie

 

Villierstown Boathouse

   

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