Construction of the largest residential development in Athlone will commence within six months following formal approval by An Bord Pleanála for a Strategic Housing Development of 576 dwellings at Lissywollen and Kilnafaddoge.
Westmeath County Council has partnered with Alanna-Roadbridge Joint Venture for the proposed residential development composed of 400 private homes and 176 social housing units.
A statement issued by the local authority this week welcomed the decision by An Bord Pleanála, the provision of residential units much needed for Athlone as a designated regional growth centre.
‘This represents an important milestone in the delivery of a housing project that Westmeath County Council, through its Housing Capital Team, has been working to deliver for some time. The project has been developed with the support of the elected members of the Council and working with our stakeholders, including the Housing Agency, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the residents of Brawny.
‘The proposed development will deliver 176 social homes and 400 private homes in Athlone at a location that is ideally and centrally located in terms of easy access to the broad range of services and facilities that Athlone has to offer. These include the Old Rail Trail Greenway, the Regional Sports Centre and Fitness Park, primary, secondary and third level education facilities, sporting facilities, and transport facilities to name but a few.
‘The proposed development is on 17.6 hectares of land in the ownership of Westmeath County Council, to the west of Scoil na gCeithre Máistrí and to the east and west of the existing housing at Brawny Road and provides for a contemporary scheme of 576 residential units consisting of 285 houses and 291 apartments and duplexes.
‘The proposed new homes vary in size and scale from two-storey housing to a five-storey landmark building at the North-West area of the site and are organised in a network of streets with nine new public greenspaces.
The development is divided into five distinct character areas, linked by an extensive green network of paths and cycle tracks, providing enhanced connectivity with the Old Rail Trail Greenway.
‘Vehicular access is proposed from both the Garrycastle Road (R916 ) and from Brawny Road and incorporates dedicated cycleways and pedestrian routes forming the Brawny Access Road with the aid of funding from the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund.
‘A new urban public space and community hub building is central to the proposal envisaged to create a sustainable and attractive public space that integrates seamlessly into the existing Brawny area and its environs. There will also be two new creche/childcare facilities serving the area.
Westmeath County Council is delighted that this significant housing project is moving forward. The obtaining of planning permission is a critical step in the delivery of a substantial number of residential units.’
Affording his thoughts, Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, Deputy Mayor, Athlone Moate Municipal District, noted that it was the decision he was expecting but queried the planning permission process presently in operation.
“I wasn’t surprised to see permission granted in this particular instance, but I can’t help but feel even more cynical about the planning process in this country when I see such decisions receiving approval.
“When you see a colossal development like Lissywollen with almost 600 dwellings and the vast associated works receiving planning approval while permission for the construction of a much needed supermarket in Baylough is declined from a desktop assessment in Dublin, it really evokes a sense of discontent within.
“How a residential development of substantial size with all of its many intricacies, along with the number of concerns raised by Councillors and locals can proceed remains open to further debate.
“The public consultation process is wholly fake with regard to Strategic Housing Developments. We witnessed a similar situation with regard to the Castlestar Development in Coosan and now, once again, in Brawny. All of the views of the public and the Councillors were simply ignored, the formal awarding of planning permission being no more than a ‘box ticking exercise’.
“I have concerns about the size and quality of the residential units being constructed in Lissywollen, the density and sheer scale of the development and five storey town blocks.
“While I fully recognise that we need residential units in our ever evolving growth town, they must be of a certain standard. We want good quality houses, fit for purpose and with a good mix in terms of sizes and future adaptability.
“We certainly do not want residential properties that are not properly future proofed in terms of energy efficiency, flexibility and possible adaption for older people or people with disabilities into the future,” Cllr O’Rourke asserted.