Funding announcement gives scope for Athlone housing boost

Funding to the tune of €1.83m has been allocated to allow for the construction of a new access road from Lissywollen to Garrycastle to facilitate the building of badly needed housing.

The capital, which has come from the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF ), will provide for a mix of private and public housing, including student accommodation, on a large land bank of 25 acres under the control of Westmeath County Council and The Housing Agency. The aim is to provide 200 housing units in the short term, with a long-term potential of up to 670 housing units.

The Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal, Damian English, was in Athlone Regional Sports Centre at the end of June last year to meet with local Independent Deputy, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, Mayor of Athlone John Dolan, and Fianna Fáil councillor Frankie Keena, who pressed upon him the potential of opening up this new road.

Speaking this week, Deputy Moran, said the funding “will remove critical infrastructural blockages in Athlone”.

“This funding is intended to generate housing supply in urban areas where demand is strong and today’s news should be able to, in the long run, increase the amount of housing stock available, both for public and private needs,” he said.

Athlone-based Senator, Gabrielle McFadden has welcomed the announcement.

“Anyone looking to buy or rent a house in the Athlone area will be aware of the shortage of supply that exists,” she said. “We need urgent action to remove impediments to the supply of private housing, and this is one of a range of initiatives that have been put in place by the Government.”

Mayor of Athlone, John Dolan, referred to the project as a “no brainer” and commended Minister English for taking councillors views on board.

“It is a cheap access to a large amount of already serviced land,” he commented. “It is a massive boost for the town. Hopefully it will happen sooner rather than later.

“In fairness to Damian English, he is a man of his word. He came down and met us and was in the council chamber in Mullingar and I found him most approachable.”

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