The traditional ‘turning of the sod’ ritual at a Westmeath County Council housing development in Arcadia, was performed by the Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Damien English TD, on Tuesday morning.
Boasting an initial scheme of 33 houses, it is hoped that the Arcadin Well development will be concluded by Glenman Corporation, contractors appointed to the site, in early 2020.
A second phase of the development is noted for mid-2019 with work due to commence on 18 additional houses at this time with the local authority planning to construct 400 houses in Athlone by the end of 2021.
The project, costing over €6.8 million, is funded under the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness.
Addressing his fellow elected representatives and those in attendance at the sod turning, Cllr. John Dolan, Cathaoirleach, Westmeath County Council, welcomed the housing development, acknowledging the housing shortage in the locality.
“We have to tackle this housing shortage by improving our social housing output as a Council. This is a commitment by Westmeath County Council to help those in need of homes which will be built to a high standard by our contractor on site Glenman Corporation.
“The development is extremely well located close to the town’s services and amenities and I look forward to the commencement of phase two of the development in mid-2019,” Cllr. Dolan enthused.
Speaking at the opening, Minister English praised all involved, including Westmeath County Council, the contractors and designers.
He said the scheme, which provides high quality two, three and four bedroomed houses to cater for the different housing demands arising in Athlone and surrounding areas, “would be a very welcome addition to the housing stock in Westmeath when completed”.
Commenting that he was heartened by what will be achieved in Arcadia, Minister English emphasised how Westmeath County Council were capable of delivering high quality housing through the funding support available under the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan and urged the local authority to continue working towards achieving its housing targets between 2016-2021.
“As a Government we are under pressure to deliver on the housing front, but across all political parties, Oireachtas members are completely behind the relevant budget.
“Westmeath County Council is to the forefront when pushing housing schemes and it is great to see progress on this key site in the centre of town,” the Deputy acknowledged.
The Deputy also alluded to the need for the provision of additional student accommodation in Athlone as the third level institute continues to grow and attract a large numbers from across the country.
Prior to the turning of the sod, Senator Gabrielle McFadden met with Minister English who outlined her views with regard to the town’s west side urban regeneration project during a tour of the locality.