Local Residents’ Association voice their strategic housing development concerns

Unified in thought, the residents of Church Hills Estate, have voiced their objection to a pertinent issue pertaining to the proposed planning application for in excess of four hundred new homes within the townlands of Cornamagh, Clonbrusk and Coosan.

Making public their concerns, the residents association, afforded a detailed response to the decision taken by Castlestar (Athlone ) Limited to issue a planning application to construct 426 residential units, including 237 houses and 189 apartments as well as a crèche and associated site works.

The application, which is seeking to include the construction of a 430m section of a new distributor road linking Coosan and Cornamaddy, has been lodged directly with An Bord Pleanala as part of the Strategic Housing Development process and therefore does not necessitate adjudication at local Government level.

In a statement issued this week, the Church Hills Residents Association, noted their intention to object to an important aspect of the Dun an Ri strategic housing development.

“The Dun an Ri application proposes to connect Church Hills and Dun an Ri by creating an access point through an existing wall located between the Realta Gael Creche and number 11 Church Hills Crescent.

“We oppose the proposal to open this access point. Church Hills is a small estate with just 80 homes, two apartments and a creche. There is a single access road to the estate so it has been a cul de sac for 15 years without additional pedestrian or vehicle traffic.

“This environment has allowed a great community atmosphere to develop in this estate and it is a place where our children can play outside safely. Many recent residents have purchased homes here on the basis that it is a small mature secluded estate that provides a quiet and safe environment for their children.”

The precise nature of the access point and its non-inclusion in the main planning documents is of vast concern as further detailed in the issued statement.

“The access information on the landscaping document is itself quite limited. Considering the impact this proposal will have on the community of Church Hills, the information provided is unclear and appears to be deliberately obscure.

“The description ‘mounding and wildflower meadow’ pointing at the access point is used and within the development it points out a 3m footpath/emergency services access without associating it to the access point.

“In other documents the access point is covered in shrubbery making it appear like a boundary. The implication of it being an emergency services access further increases concerns that this could lead to creation of road access between the estates.”

The statement asserted that there was no consultation with residents in advance of the planning application publication.

“As a strategic housing development the normal planning process does not apply. The planning submission to An Bord Pleanala is published on the developers website under the Planning Drawings section. www.dunanriathloneshd.com

“After raising our concerns with Councillors, a response was received from the developer indicating a full pedestrian/cycleway is proposed. The developer portrayed this as a positive for the residents of Church Hills giving access to a new green area in the new development.

“We believe there are sufficient green areas in Church Hills to support the needs of families and don’t agree that access to green areas in the new development will have any significant benefit for the families in Church Hills.

“It is completely unnecessary to connect a housing development of 426 units to a smaller estate of only 82 units, that has been in situ for 15 years. The fact that a cycleway could pass directly in front of family gardens where children play is also of serious concern.

“We feel that this proposal will impact upon the quality of life and safety of residents and their children in Church Hills. The management of the Creche (Realta Gael ) which would be immediately adjacent to the access point have also advised that they do not support the proposal.

“Sufficient access for the Dun an Ri development is planned. It has a distributor road to connect Dun an Ri to Coosan Point road and to Cornamagh. The main entrance is on the Coosan road, which is the shortest/quickest way into the centre of Athlone.”

The statement noted the support afforded by local public representatives with regard to the access point objection.

“The following Councillors have visited the estate and have pledged support to object to this aspect of plan, Town Mayor, Cllr. Aengus O’Rourke, Cllr John Dolan, Cllr Frankie Keena, Cllr Jamie Moran and Cllr Tom Farrell.

“A planning consultant has been secured by the residents association with the intention to submit a formal objection to the proposed access on behalf of the residents association. Individual residents have also indicated they will submit objections.

“The size of this development is not suitable for this area given the volume of traffic on Ballymahon Road at peak times and the number of school places available in Athlone.

“We appreciate there is a lack of housing but this should not allow developers to arbitrarily impact existing communities unnecessarily. Our overriding concern is that such a large housing development would not directly impact existing residents.”


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