Coosan residents voice major concerns about 400-home plan

Photo: Members of The Glen Residents Association.

A group of residents in Coosan has voiced their concerns with plans for over 426 homes across the road from their estate.

Residents of The Glen, Coosan, said they are unhappy with the scale, density, and traffic that will be generated by the proposed Dún an Rí development.

Castlestar (Athlone) Ltd is seeking permission from An Bord Pleanála to press ahead with 426 A-rated homes as part of what's billed as “high-quality residential scheme” made up of 237 housing units and 189 apartments, a creche, a large central parkland area with a playground on land fronting onto the Coosan Road, across the road from The Glen housing estate. The 15-hectare site takes in townlands of Coosan, Cornamagh, and Clonbrusk.

On July 8 last, the developers lodged their proposals directly with An Bord Pleanála as part of Strategic Housing Development (SHD) process, a relatively new fast-track planning process which allows substantial project go directly to board bypassing the local authority for a decision in 16 weeks.

Damien O'Neill, a member of The Glen Residents Association, outlined some of the difficulties they have with the plans.

“We completely understand that we are in a housing crisis and there is a need for additional housing in Athlone. However, the proposed plans are not in compliance with the Athlone Town plan. The scale and density of this development are much higher.

“They are proposing to build 426+ homes when the maximum number of houses in any of the local housing estates is 80,” Damien detailed.

“As residents, we are particularly anxious that a number of proposed four-storey apartment blocks, facing on to The Two Mile and overlooking the front row of houses in The Glen, will block light into our homes and we have real privacy concerns.

‘We are expecting the new development to increase the volume of traffic locally by 1000+ cars a day. This is going to have a very tangible effect on our environment in terms of air quality and noise pollution,” another concerned resident, Renae Griffith said this week.

“We already see rush hour traffic regularly backed up to Cornamaddy School in the morning heading into town. This is going to make the situation much, much worse,” she claimed.

“In addition, a new junction, with filter lanes and traffic lights, is planned at the entrance of our estate. It is inevitable that this will diminish our ease of access to our homes and we have serious concerns about the safety of our children with the access paths and green area so close to a major junction with high volumes of traffic.

“The local area is not equipped in terms of ancillary services for a development on this scale. There are not enough places in the local schools and doctors’ offices locally are at capacity. The list goes on,” Renae continued.

Mrs Griffith is calling for local councillors to get behind in addressing their concerns, adding that the group is planning a coordinated response to the application.

“We acknowledge that housing is needed but jumping in to build developments on this scale without proper feasibility studies or thought is reminiscent of the poor planning that has blighted this country in the past. “All we want is a fair and transparent process to ensure a development scheme that benefits us all. We would welcome an opportunity to engage with the council and developers to ensure that the voice of everyone in the community is heard,” she ended.

The final deadline for submissions in relation to the project is August 11, with the decision listed An Bord Pleanála as October 27.

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