The evolution of Athlone as a major growth centre, not just within the Midland region, but on a national scale, received further enhancement this week, with news that three key projects have been chosen for funding under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund.
As a key part of Project Ireland 2040, the Government’s National Planning Framework and National Development Plan, Athlone Tourism Cultural Quarter, Athlone Town Centre Regeneration and Enhancement and Loughanaskin will feel the regeneration and redevelopment benefit of an estimated €12 million in relevant allocated funding.
Most welcome will be the rejuvenation of the Athlone Tourism Cultural Quarter on the town's west side, a cause which has long been pioneered by Senator Gabrielle McFadden.
"Athlone is receiving this funding because it was designated as a special regional driver as part of Project 2040, following a very intensive, personal campaign. Once I received the designation, I immediately started my campaign for the West Side regeneration.
"Having grown up in Connaught Street, I am particularly pleased that my project in this area was taken on board by the Council and has now received Government funding. I would like to thank Ministers Murphy and English, who have both visited the area at my invitation and been impressed by the project from the early stages.”
"This is a significant step in making Athlone an even more attractive destination for people in which to live, work, visit and socialise. While much positive development has taken place in Athlone over recent years, there are still areas where there is dereliction and under-occupied buildings," Senator McFadden commented.
A strong local presence at Government level was noted by Minister for State, Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, as he enthused with regard to the future regeneration of key sited within his home town.
"I am absolutely delighted with the news. This is a project which I have been working very hard on and I am particularly pleased that all three projects earmarked for Athlone have been selected, with the total funding costs of €12.5m. Today’s announcement allows for the council to draw up their plans, purchase properties and put in the necessary infrastructure.
"Overall, this is a great day for the town of Athlone and helps to cements the future enhancement of the urban landscape that will assist in the future growth of the town,” Minister Moran remarked.
The Urban Regeneration and Development fund is the largest urban regeneration initiative in Ireland for numerous decades and was established to support more compact and sustainable development, through the regeneration of and rejuvenation of Ireland’s large towns and cities, in line with the objectives of Project Ireland 2040.
The fund has an overall allocation of €2billion to 2027 and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government has responsibility for implementation of the approved projects.