Evolving landscape of Athlone continues as urban regeneration projects make progress

ronan fagan

The evolving landscape of Athlone town centre continues apace with elected members receiving an update on progress works pertaining to urban regeneration projects at a recent sitting of the Municipal District.

One of three urban regeneration projects which will enhance the presentation of Athlone for natives and visitors to the growth town, a final Loughaniskin design and economic led masterplan has been published and was presented to the elected representatives and members of the local authority executive by the Westmeath County Council regeneration project team.

The purpose of the masterplan is to enable the comprehensive transformation of Loughaniskin to become a highly sustainable and integrated new urban quarter adjoining the town centre. The in-depth masterplan gives visible form to this ambitious flagship project to develop an integrated sustainable and resilient quarter where people can live and work.

Importantly, the masterplan is underpinned by economic assessment and viability testing, as well as an integrated approach to stakeholder engagement, to advance an innovative approach that is embodied in the final design.

The masterplan is critical in advancing and supporting Athlone as a ‘regional driver’ and providing for future growth and success of the town and the wider area. The regeneration-led masterplan incorporates a number of key design components including provision for a new commercial zone that will feature state-of-the-art, flexible and mixed-use commercial office spaces to accommodate a variety of occupiers. A residential zone is also featured within the design concept offering a mix of urban house types to help diversify local housing provision.

Additional features within the masterplan includes the development of a high quality landing space comprising recreation and amenity space, a distinctive ‘green route’ through the site providing a pedestrian friendly connection between the town centre and Old Rail Trail greenway, the development of St Mary’s Gateway which will be a new entrance space to Loughanaskin, including community and cultural uses, and a number of active ground floor uses as part of the residential and commercial zones.

Welcoming the presentation of the “aspirational” document, Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, noted Loughanaiskin to be a spectacular location on a “number of levels”.

“The document presented to the members today is aspirational in its content and I, like my fellow members, look forward to its ultimate realisation. While we look towards the future, have we spoken to the existing business community in Loughaniskin and gauged their thoughts with regard to this masterplan?,” Cllr O’Rourke stated.

Director of services, Barry Kehoe, in response, noted the council’s intention to have works commence in Loughaniskin in 2024.

“It is our intention to be ‘on the ground’ in Loughaniskin in 2024, the hope being to commence demolition of the unused buildings within the location and proceeding with a public realm,” Kehoe asserted.

Athlone Town Enhancement Scheme Progress

Members were also informed as to the progress of the Athlone Town Enhancement Scheme, the regeneration project team confirming that installation of demarcation studs and bollards was ongoing, a temporary traffic management system in place at junction.

The installation of ducting and drainage continues on Sean Costello Street with paving nearing completion along the east side of Pump Lane and at Irishtown. Bi-weekly liaison meetings with stakeholders are continuing.

With an April 2024 culmination date for this strand of the urban regeneration projects, future works include the installation and commissioning of traffic signals at the Mardyke Street and Sean Costello Street junctions in due course, the progress of paving on Sean Costello also being paramount.

The regeneration project team confirmed to the Municipal District that works will pause in early December to facilitate businesses and shoppers during the Christmas period.

This project is funded by Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF ) to support sustainable development, as set out in Project Ireland 2040.


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