Council blunder forces restart of Church Street consultation

The planning process for enhancement works to Athlone’s Church Street, including controversial plans to introduce a one-way system, is to be recommenced after the council discovered an error in the process.

A statement yesterday (Wednesday ) afternoon from Pat Keating, district manager of Athlone Municipal District, stated that Westmeath County Council is recommencing the Part 8 planning process for the Church Street works, “due to an administrative oversight”.

The particular issue is that the council failed to erect a site notice on the street, as required under the Planning and Development Regulations 2001. A new public notice will be issued next week and site notices will be erected.

Mr Keating said the council would like to apologise for any inconvenience or confusion the matter has caused.

Mayor of Athlone John Dolan said he would encourage all those who previously made submissions to resubmit them when the process opens again next week, as the previous process is now invalid.

“The council will be readvertising the Part 8 from next week. One effect of this is that it is a longer consultation process, so it gives people extra time to put submissions together,” he said.

While councillors had been hoping to have the manager’s report on the consultation before them at their February or March meeting, it is now likely to be May or June before they make a final decision on plans for the street. However Cllr Dolan says he has been assured that the delay will not impact on the €3 million in funding which is available for the enhancement.

He says this latest development indicates that the council are subject to the same laws as anyone else.

“The council are subject to the laws of the land, and the process has to be 100 per cent properly followed. Similar to anyone who makes a planning application, there has to be a notice placed on the street, and this was overlooked.”

The plans originally went on public display in mid-November 2016, with a closing date of February 1 for submissions. Details of the new process will be available in Athlone Civic Centre and on the council’s website next week.

The €3 million Church Street makeover being proposed by the council includes plans for a westbound one-way traffic system, wider footpaths, street paving, enhanced public spaces, and traffic calming.


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