With news that funding has been allocated to regenerate, redevelop and enhance three key sites within the heart of Athlone, how will such projects change the landscape of the town in future times?
Speaking this week to the Athlone Advertiser, Deputy Kevin 'Boxer' Moran detailed the intricacies of the selected projects.
“The Loughanaskin plan has been talked about for a long number of years but now it is put on a firm footing for development. The Council have secured St. Mels and the availablility of this site and other potential properties in the area, this opens up this key area of the town centre.
“It is also great news for the residents of the area who will finally begin to see this strategy come to fruition. Loughanaskin was identified as one of seven specific 'opportunity sites' earmarked for comprehensive redevelopment over the lifetime of the Athlone Town Development Plan 2014. The Loughanaskin Urban Quarter will include the facilitation of the development of a mixed use scheme which will support the commercial core of the town centre including a mixed residential scheme with supporting services and facilities. The plan seeks to optimise the potential of this strategic town centre site," Minister Moran noted.
Addressing the second key project, the Minister remarked that the present streetscape enhancement along Church Street is to be extended.
"The second project is to continue the current €4 million enhancement of Athlone Town Centre with the extensions of the streetscape works from Church Street, along Mardyke Street to the junction with St. Mary's Place, continuing along Pump Lane to the junction of Sean Costello Street/John Broderick Street and returning back via Sean Costello Street merging with Church Street and Mardyke Street into Irishtown. The project will address derelict and vacant sites in the area and will physically define the focal entry point to the main shopping thoroughfare of Athlone. This will aim to improve the public realm, creating a more pedestrian friendly and vibrant town centre that will strengthen Athlone’s position as an attractive retail and tourism centre for the Midlands. The project will also act as a catalyst in attracting business, retail and leisure interests into the area to ensure that Athlone offers an exemplary and diverse shopping experience," Minister Moran emphasised.
The third project is the regeneration of the West Bank of Athlone as a Tourism and Cultural Quarter.
"Westmeath County Council has a long term vision and commitment to regenerate this area to support its emerging cultural quarter status. This is a two phase project which provides for the cultural led regeneration of Connaught Street and environs. The project will enhance and open up the natural heritage amenity in the area by way of enhancement of the Athlone Canal and Ranelagh," the Minister concluded.