County council to gift, return and redevelop its own lands across county

The county council has given itself permission to redevelop a gritting depot, okayed the return of land formerly acquired for a motorway, and given three sites away for playgrounds.

The depot is located in the council’s machinery yard in the Blyry industrial estate, in Athlone, and its upgrade was green-lighted at the council’s monthly meeting in Mullingar this week, September 23.

The plan calls for the construction of a new salt barn, and adjacent apron, as well as extensions to the existing staff facilities, stores, bulk storage containers, and parking facilities for both employees and works vehicles.

“Westmeath County Council is responsible for the maintenance of a road network totalling 2,180 km, and the council recognises the important role a safe and efficient road system can play in the economic development of Westmeath, and its contribution to regional and national prosperity,” said acting county manager, Barry Kehoe.

An obligatory assessment has deemed this site as not likely to give rise to any adverse impact on nearby special areas of conservation (SACs ) or special protection areas (SPAs ), and the proposal is also deemed consistent with the County Development Plan.

The site has already undergone inspections from the HSE, the county fire officer, and the council’s environment section over the last two months, and no problems were raised, nor have any contrary submissions been received from the general public.

No budget was revealed, but it was hoped to have the work completed in time for the worst excesses of the forthcoming winter.

In other planning news from the region, the county council has returned 9 parcels of land along the M6 between Kilbeggan and Athone to local loandowners.

The land was initially compulsorily purchased by the NRA to facilitate the building of the motorway eight years ago, but has now been deemed surplus to requirements, and is being returned to its original owners.

The nine parcels comprise, in total, of 7.44Ha (18.4ac ), out of the 630Ha (1,500ac ) acquired between Kinnegad and Athlone for the M6.

“These parcels of land revert to the landowners as part of the initial compromise package. They would be absolutely useless to anybody else. They’re landlocked, surplus to motorway requirements, and have no public access,” said a spokesman for the NRA.

Mr Kehoe promised details of more of these were to follow at the October meeting, but gave no further information at this stage.

The council also gave the go-ahead to the donation of three small parcels of public land, each about one tenth of an acre, in Ballynacarrigy, Collinstown, and Clonmellon to local trusts to be developed as playgrounds in each of the villages.

Cllr Colm Arthur was an almost ironic seconder on each of these proposals, and the ripple of sympathetic laughter from his elected colleagues was in recognition of the failed battle he waged over almost a year to secure such a facility for Tyrrellspass.

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