Regeneration of Athlone’s west side my priority - O’Rourke

Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser this week, Westmeath County Council Cathaoirleach, Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, confirmed that the local authority has advanced plans to commence work on three prominent, yet idle properties on Connaught Street, namely numbers 36, 53 and 59.

“Thomas Campbell Consulting Engineers Ltd have been awarded the engineering contract for all three projects, the construction contract/s due to be awarded in the coming months,” Cllr O’Rourke stated.

The Cathaoirleach noted that, when redeveloped, the properties will realise seven new residential units on Connaught Street.

“Apart from the fact that these seven homes are badly needed, it is also very important to get the regeneration of the street underway. This work is great news for the west side and coupled with the recent planning approval for the ‘pink elephant’ site encompassing 21 apartment units, it all adds up to a major investment in the street,” the Cathaoirleach asserted.

Cllr O’Rourke expressed his disappointment that too many private properties on Connaught Street still remain idle.

“However, unfortunately, too many private properties still lie idle and tired on the street. While Westmeath County Council now own and have plans for a number of properties on Connaught Street, the pace of investment and refurbishment by private property owners is not where it needs to be. There are many good, vibrant businesses and responsible property owners on Connaught Street but there are also too many tired and unkempt buildings at the same time. This is despite the fact that Westmeath County Council’s Shopfront Enhancement Scheme is available to grant aid the refurbishment of business premises. Unfortunately, only four premises in five years have applied for the scheme on Connaught Street.”

“Recently, one idle and abandoned private building was facing collapse until the council stepped in to make it safe at a cost in excess of €100,000. I have no doubt Westmeath County Council will reluctantly end up owning this building and this is the manner in which many of the properties have ended up in council ownership, they were either abandoned or gifted to the local authority, which is never an ideal situation.

“However, it is now time to look forward, lets welcome this great news for seven prospective new homes and I will ensure we keep this momentum going on the west side of our town. I live and work in this part of town, I believe it has huge potential and I think these particular developments can be the launch pad for greater on-going investment and improvement,” Cllr O’Rourke concluded.


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