An ambitious development project has been proposed for the west side of Athlone, the Athlone Advertiser learned this week.
Comprising 29 residential apartments, one retail unit, an amenity space, semi-basement carpark, communal open space and associated ancillary spaces, planning application for the five storey building submitted by Ledbro Ltd, if approved by Westmeath County Council, will be located at 20 Connaught Street, Harry's Lane and 7 Patrick Street.
The project will involve the demolition of a derelict two storey public house and associated ancillary spaces with construction of the five storey mixed use scheme arranged over two blocks.
Athlone Deputy Mayor, Cllr Aengus O'Rourke, welcomed the news, noting the "ambitious vision" of private entrepreneurs pertaining to the much needed development of the town's west side.
"In November 2018, the Government awarded Westmeath County Council approximately €3.5m to progress a plan to regenerate the west side of Athlone, in particular Connaught Street, O’Connell Street, Barrack Street and Pearse Street.
"While progress has been slow in terms of local authority regeneration plans for the west side of Athlone and particularly for the Connaught Street area, it is great to see that private entrepreneurs are emerging with an ambitious vision for the street.
"In recent times, Westmeath County Council received an application for a five-storey building within the Connaught Street area. For those of us who remember Connaught Street in its prominence, this was the substantial site of the public house once called 'The Athlone Arms Pub'.
"The proposal is for 29 apartments, a retail unit, a car park, an amenity space and communal open space. The exiting derelict building will be completely demolished should the development be formally approved for progress.
"If this application is successful, it will be the largest investment in the area since Frank Kelly's Bastion Court development fifteen years ago. While the decision is firmly with the Westmeath County Council planning department at this point, I am very supportive of the application. In my view this development could be a 'game changer' for the west side of Athlone should the planning application proceed.
"Westmeath County Council are working on a blueprint for how the west side could and should develop in the decades to come. The west side regeneration plan is underway, consultants currently working with the council to devise a progressive pathway into the future for the area.
"This regeneration plan has taken too long in my view, but I am optimistic that we will see some meaningful progress soon. While a local authority regeneration scheme is important and will go a long way to breathing new life, ideas and investment into the west side of our town, on its own it is not a 'silver bullet'.
"Transformation takes time, and it involves a unified and cohesive approach from all relevant parties - local authority, Government (funding ), local stakeholders and ambitious investors.
"Better times, I truly believe, are ahead for the west side of Athlone and I will continue to work as I have always done to ensure that this particular area of our town receives the attention, support and investment it needs and deserves," Deputy Mayor O'Rourke asserted.