Strategic housing development evokes much public concern

The proposed construction of a strategic housing development within the townlands of Cornamagh, Clonbrusk and Coosan continues to evoke much public concern with residents of The Glen voicing their disapproval with aspects of the planning application lodged by Castlestar (Athlone ) Limited to An Bord Pleanala.

The planning application for Dun an Ri, which proposes the construction of 426 residential units, including 237 houses, 189 apartments and a crèche, was the focus of a specially convened meeting of the elected representatives and executive of Athlone-Moate Municipal District in recent times.

As the proposed construction is a strategic housing development, the planning application does not necessitate adjudication at local Government level and has been lodged directly by Castlestar (Athlone ) Limited with An Bord Pleanala.

The Residents Association of The Glen united to discuss their immediate concerns pertaining to the proposed development which, if approved, will realise a vast construction process directly across from their housing estate.

“We completely understand that we are in a housing crisis and there is a need for additional housing in Athlone. However, the proposed plans are not in compliance with the Athlone Town plan. The scale and density of this development is much higher. They are proposing to build 426 homes when the maximum number of houses in any of the local housing estates is 80. It is not difficult to see the magnitude of this development, and its consequences on the local area, with figures like this.

As residents, we are particularly anxious that a number of proposed four storey apartment blocks, facing on to The Two Mile and overlooking the front row of houses in The Glen, will block light into our homes and we have real privacy concerns, Residents Association member, Damien O’Neill, noted.

“We are expecting the new development to increase the volume of traffic locally by in excess of one thousand cars daily. This is going to have a very tangible effect on our environment in terms of air quality and noise pollution. We already see rush hour traffic regularly backed up to Cornamaddy School in the morning heading towards town. This is going to make the situation much, much worse.

“In addition, a new junction, with filter lanes and traffic lights, is planned at the entrance of our estate. It is inevitable that this will diminish our ease of access to our homes and we have serious concerns about the safety of our children with the access paths and green area so close to a major junction with high volumes of traffic.

The local area is not equipped in terms of ancillary services for a development on this scale. There are not enough places in the local schools and doctors’ offices locally are at capacity. The list goes on,” concerned resident, Renae Griffith, asserted.

Mrs Griffith also said that the Residents Association are planning a co-ordinated response to the proposed planning application and want the support of local Councillors in addressing the real and serious concerns.

“We acknowledge that housing is needed but jumping in to build developments on this scale without proper feasibility studies or thought is reminiscent of the poor planning that has blighted this country in the past. All we want is a fair and transparent process to ensure a development scheme that benefits us all. We would welcome an opportunity to engage with the Council and developers to ensure that the voice of everyone in the community is heard,” Mrs Griffiths stressed.

Town Mayor voices concerns

Speaking following a specially convened meeting attended by local Councillors and members of the local authority executive pertaining to the issue, Town Mayor, Cllr. Aengus O’Rourke, noted that the development in question “had still some way to go before it gets the green light, but now was a good time to consider all aspects of the proposed plan.”

The Town Mayor stated that as the development is a ‘Strategic Housing Development’, this planning application goes directly to An Bord Pleanala, the local Athlone planning office does not adjudicate on this application.

“As Councillors we have no decision making role either, but having walked the site, reviewed the plans and met with the residents in the area, I have concerns pertaining to the proposal to ‘break-through’, an opening from the new estate to the existing Church Hills private estate (between the Creche and 11 Church Hills ) which I believe is wholly unreasonable and unnecessary.

“Such a move would introduce a potential security risk to Church Hills on a number of levels. The ‘break-through’ would also fundamentally alter and undermine the existing and long established privacy aspect of Church Hills. It is my opinion that no ‘third party’ should ever have the right to impact a private estate, without the unanimous consent of the property owners in the affected estate. In this case such consent is not given and in fact it is utterly opposed.

I therefore support the residents of Church Hills in their opposition to the ‘break-through’ proposal,” Cllr. O’Rourke stressed.

The Town Mayor asserted his perspective on a further feature outlined on the planning permission proposals.

“The area on the plans marked red and indicated as the line for sewage/water which passes between Church Hills and Church Fields will need to be secured during and after the development has taken place. This is and has always been closed to access from the public.

“I support the residents of Church Hills in their opposition to having this ‘lane-way’ made more accessible to the public in any way before, during or after this development,” the Town Mayor stated.

Public submissions can be made on pertaining to the plans until August 11 with a decision due to be made on the development by October 27.

 

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