Flood fears allow pragmatism trump progress

A fear of water combined with the Tiger’s demise has seen the adoption of a plan prepared for the southerly expansion of Athlone between Burgess Park and Willow Park postponed for at least four years until the ongoing study on Shannon flooding is published in 2014.

The Loughandonning Area Plan, as it is known.was presented to the town council last month, and concerns the next section of Athlone lined up to be developed. This comprises of 66.5Ha (164 acres ) immediately to the south of the town, stretching from the Shannon banks behind Golden Island and Bonavalley to Willow Park.

At this month’s meeting of the town council on Monday, Cllr ‘Boxer’ Moran suggested it would be premature to adopt this plan before the Office of Public Works publish its CFRAM (Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management ) study, ordered nationally in the wake of the devastating floods of November 2009.

A strong supporter of this plan, Mayor Sheila Buckley Byrne voiced her surprise at this suggestion, but Boxer was supported by Cllr Mark Cooney and Cllr Kieran Molloy who called this suggestion “a sensible move”.

County manager, Danny McLoughlin also got in behind it, and said that: “This is the reasonable approach”.

The plan calls for a linear development of this area from the Callows along the Al river, and the dangers of flooding had already flagged been within the original draft. of the plan.

However, a new, €22 million stretch of road planned for this area and deemed “a pivotal and strategic route” at a previous meeting, is still expected to go ahead as “provision is already made for the Loughandonning road”, according to director of services, Barry Kehoe.

It was initially hoped the money collected from development levies of new businesses along this road when it was first mooted would help fund this plan, put events have since put a little stop to this idea.

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