Residential project mooted at former Bower convent
A new apartment development proposed for the historic Our Lady's Bower convent and old boarding school site will “bring a new modern life and function” to the old buildings and natural surroundings, a design statement lodged in support of the application claims.
Wincove Land Limited, with a registered address in Elphin, Co Roscommon, proposes to change the use of the convent building, which dates back to the 1880s, and a later extension from the 1960s, from a convent and school to a library, to a development of over 84 residential apartments at Aghecocora, Lower Road, Athlone.
The developers plan to emphasise and expose the “beauty of the 1889 Gothic Revival-style old convent” and “fade newer disordered facades from the 60s and late twentieth century, by introducing rhythmic design,” the planning documents reveal, explaining that this listed building along with a 1960s extension would become home to 60 new apartments, almost half of which (28) would be two bed units, along with 11 three bed apartments, and a smaller number of studio and one beds.
A five-storey residential apartment block extension to the north-west side of the existing 1960s building would house some of these units.
Another 24 apartments will be provided in a new six-storey residential block on the old tennis courts, 22 of which are two-bed units. The conservation report puts forward that this is an appropriate use of the grounds adjacent to the old La Sainte Union convent and school site.
What's described as a new “community centre, library and memorable place with a display area” will take up a large space of the chapel in the old convent and all existing features will be retained. Stained glass windows, some doors and wooden floors will also be preserved, one of the conservation reports among a huge amount of documentation and reports lodged with the council earlier this month indicates.
In June 2014, the last 11 boarders sat their Leaving Certificate before Our Lady's Bower school shut its doors for the last time. Three years later the convent and school site, a landmark building in Athlone's history was sold. It has lain unused in the interim.
A decision on the apartment project is due from Westmeath County Council by June 2 next.