A graphic design image of what the new Dún na Rí housing development in the Coosan/Cornamagh area will look like.

Construction of Coosan housing project deferred

Construction of phase one of the new Dún na Rí housing development in the Coosan/Cornamagh area has been deferred as a result of what the developers described as the “unprecedented and extreme volatility in the price of building materials” and uncertainty of supply chains arising from the Russia/Ukraine war.

A statement from Castlestar (Athlone) Limited following a query from the Westmeath Independent has confirmed that the first phase of what's thought to be Athlone's largest-ever residential development, encompassing a total of 426 homes, on land bordering Buccaneers rugby club, in the townlands of Coosan, Cornamagh, and Clonbrusk, has been deferred until there is price stability in relation to building materials.

“Arising from this decision, construction activity at Coosan will now be deferred until building material prices have stabilised and until we have confirmation from suppliers that they can guarantee the supply of materials,” the statement on Monday indicated.

The €120 million development was the first major Strategic Housing Development scheme to get the green light in the Athlone area back in 2020, a process that fast-tracked large-scale housing plans over 100 units to An Bord Pleanála for a decision bypassing the council.

Work began on-site last year on the first phase of homes on the 15-hectare site which, when fully complete, would comprise 237 houses, 189 apartments, a creche, outdoor play areas, parkland, and a new 430m section of a new distributor road linking Coosan and Cornamaddy.

Amid a massive housing shortage in Athlone and beyond, the news that this project has been deferred will certainly cause huge disappointment among potential house buyers.

While Castlestar (Athlone) Limited stressed that the project is fully funded by them as the promoter, and by Bank of Ireland as their bank funder with the availability of Help To Buy supports, they had “no choice but to defer construction” until there is “continuity of material supplies and price stability on materials”.

The company said this “extreme market volatility” is having a negative effect on the entire Irish construction sector and they expect that unless the supply chain issues are resolved in the next few weeks, that Irish construction activity will decline in 2022 until stability returns.

Like others in the sector, this volatility has had a very negative impact on the cost of a wide range of building materials including major cost increases in the price of insulation, cement, concrete, steel, plasterboard, timber, energy and fuel costs, the firm underlined. They attributed the unprecedented high rate of building inflation to the challenges posed by Brexit and Covid shutdowns in 2021 in the manufacturing industries, challenges which have persisted this year, and then worsened due to the Russia/Ukraine war.

The company said this “extreme market volatility” is having a negative effect on the entire Irish construction sector and they expect that unless the supply chain issues are resolved in the next few weeks, that Irish construction activity will decline in 2022 until stability returns.

Like others in the sector, this volatility has had a very negative impact on the cost of a wide range of building materials including major cost increases in the price of insulation, cement, concrete, steel, plasterboard, timber, energy and fuel costs, the firm underlined. They attributed the unprecedented high rate of building inflation to the challenges posed by Brexit and Covid shutdowns in 2021 in the manufacturing industries, challenges which have persisted this year, and then worsened due to the Russia/Ukraine war.

“Whilst the current volatility is unprecedented and extremely unhelpful, we are confident that the Irish market and prices will stabilise once product manufacturers have identified new solutions to address these latest challenges posed by the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

“We do not yet know how long it will take before we see this stability return as the entire situation is very fluid at the moment and it continues to evolve day by day,” the statement continued, adding that if the Russia/Ukraine crisis is resolved in the near term, then the current situation could correct itself very quickly – but at the moment, the developer said it is impossible for them to give any timelines.

Speaking about the Coosan project, the statement vowed to be back on-site once the cost and supply of materials have stabilised and they will then be in a position to make rapid progress on the homes, given that infrastructure works are well advanced.

“We will proceed with the project once the cost and supply of materials have stabilised and we will keep prospective purchasers fully advised as the market situation evolves. As soon as we have confirmation that there is continuity of supply of materials and confirmation that material prices have stabilised, then we will recommence construction activity on-site at Coosan,” Castlestar (Athlone) Limited said, in this week’s statement.

“Once we recommence work on-site, we will be in a position to make rapid progress as the infrastructure works on site are already well advanced and therefore when we recommence work we expect that new homes will be available for handover to purchasers within five to six months of the recommencement date.”

As soon as the company have a fixed recommencement date, they will advise prospective purchasers, Castlestar ended.

The firm, which billed the housing project as a “high-quality residential scheme” previously said it would be developed in four phases over a four to five-year period.

The greenfield site is located to the north of the Coosan Road where it would be accessed, and between The Bounty pub and the Churchfields and Church Hills estates, with The Glen estate situated to the south of the site.