Athlone based Senator, Gabrielle McFadden has called on Minister Eoghan Murphy to designate the west side of Athlone as a pilot area for urban regeneration as part of the Ireland 2040 framework.
In a detailed proposal submitted to the minister in April, Senator McFadden outlined the need in particular for redevelopment of the west side area, beyond the Left Bank.
“There have been some great and welcome developments in Athlone in recent years, but the west side has been left behind. In recent decades, two major shopping centres have been developed on the eastern side of Athlone," explained Senator McFadden.
"The growth of AIT, the regional sports centre and much other development has meant that the ‘centre’ of Athlone has moved eastwards. Current enhancements to the streetscape in Church street, while welcome, follows this trend.”
Senator McFadden said that while Athlone as a whole is recovering from the recession and confidence is returning among the business community, but that the west of the town has been left to decline.
“This is different to the pattern of urban decay seen in many cities, where the centre is hollowed out as consumers move out of town to large retail parks. In Athlone, much of the retail and allied services remain in the centre, but only on one side," she commented.
Senator McFadden is now calling for an extension of the development through Bastion Street, O’Connell Street and Connaught Street and surrounding areas named a "Left Bank Loop" which could give huge potential to tourism, housing and business in the west side of Athlone.
"I grew up in this area of Athlone and it is very dear to me and I would like to see it thrive. I see Athlone as the heart of Ireland and I believe that such an initiative would be of benefit not just to the immediate area, but to the town and it’s hinterland as a whole,” she concluded.