A council map showing the location of the proposed development, in red.

'Frustration' over delay to plans being lodged for 547 new Athlone homes

A planning bid for more than 500 new homes in Athlone, which was expected to be lodged with An Bord Pleanála before Christmas, has not yet been submitted.

At a meeting on Monday, Cllr Frankie Keena queried the reason for the delay to the planning application for the 547-unit Alanna Roadbridge development in Brawney.

Westmeath County Council official Mark Keaveney acknowledged that the delay was "frustrating" but said he was aware the developer had been working "flat out" to finalise the plans.

The project, which would consist of 377 private homes and 170 social housing units, is due to be sent to An Bord Pleanála as part of the Strategic Housing Development process, a fast-track mechanism for large-scale developments.

At Monday's meeting of the council's Housing, Community, Corporate and Culture committee, Cllr Keena said the planning application had been awaited "for quite a while" now, and asked if there was any particular reason for the hold-up.

He also asked if there had been any response from residents in the Brawney area, and from the Gaelscoil, Scoil na gCeithre Máistrí, to revised proposals for a controversial link road through the area, between the Ballymahon Road roundabout and the Garrycastle Road.

"I share the councillor's frustration over the delay. The delay isn't on our side. It is being progressed through our side at every stage as quickly as possible," replied Mark Keaveney, the council's director of services for housing.

"The delay is on the developer's side and, really, it's a very large development. It's 547 homes, and there are a lot of things to take into consideration. I know the people involved, and they are working flat out on it.

"It's not something to have any concerns about whether they're leaving it to one side, and not progressing it because they don't want to, or for any other reason. I think it's just a function of the work that has to be done on it.

"There was a fair bit of engagement, and a fair few changes, through the process, with the residents in Brawney and with An Bord Pleanála, so all of those things take time."

He said the latest documentation on the project had been issued to the local residents in Brawney and "my understanding is that there have been no further queries, so hopefully the issues are resolved as far as possible."

Mr Keaveney added that the residents would have the opportunity to make submissions on the planning application once it has been submitted.

He also said the council had ensured that the 170 units for social housing had been designed so that they'd be accessible for people with disabilities.

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