Enhancement Scheme approval set to boost town streetscapes

Local authority financial support may be forthcoming for businesses in the town of Athlone with regard to the maintenance and upgrade of their premises should an innovative ‘Commercial Building Enhancement Scheme’ receive ratification at the Economic Development and Tourism committee meeting due to take place on Friday.

Chairman of the committee, Deputy Mayor, Cllr. Aengus O’Rourke, has proposed that Westmeath County Council proceed with the initiative specifically designed to support and encourage occupiers and property owners to improve the appearance of their business premises.

“In Athlone for example, we are investing a huge amount of money refurbishing our town core streetscape. We now need the privately owned infrastructure of our town to step up and meet the high standards set by the local authority.

“The scheme I am proposing for property owners and occupiers, will also help to deal with a number of our long term idle commercial premises in and around the town. Such a scheme would leave no excuses for those with untidy buildings.

“In order to be a modern, vibrant, competitive and attractive commercial centre, Athlone needs to continue to raise its standards across the board. Our streetscape enhancement goes a long way to doing this, but the properties along our street need to keep apace and I am calling on the council to help them in this regard,” Cllr. O’Rourke noted.

The scheme, should it be approved, would involve Westmeath County Council supporting businesses that wish to upgrade their external, public facing property. The local authority would support upgrade works such as small scale boundary treatment, wall repair, painting, landscaping, and other works that contribute positively to the appearance of their premises and the street.

In light of the enhanced Church Street streetscape development which remains on schedule for an early December completion, the Deputy Mayor raised similar concerns when addressing guidelines for local businesses in relation to how they may best use the area to the front of their premises at the monthly meeting of the Municipal District.

“Many of the premises have embraced this usage in an extremely tasteful manner, but we need to very clear and unambiguous with those not complying that appropriate frontage is a must where feasible,” Cllr. O’Rourke commented.

Cllr. O’Rourke received the full support of his elected representative colleagues on the matter, with Cllr. Michael O’Brien noting that the Municipal District would fully support any initiative regarding the upkeep and maintenance of businesses frontage.

“We must strive to attain and maintain the highest of standards in this regard,” Cllr. O’Brien acknowledged.

Complementing the existing exemplary streetscape enhancement ongoing along Church Street, it is hoped that an extension of same will see similar works extend to Dunnes Stores and eventually towards Irishtown.

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