What the proposed development will look like.

Massive student housing plan at Garrycastle gets green light

A massive student accommodation project near Garrycastle has been given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanála

The planning board this week granted approval to Avenir Homes Ltd, subject to 28 conditions, for the project, billed as 'The Green Quarter', totalling up to 168 residential units.

The proposal comprises a mixed-use residential development of 60 houses, 62 residential apartments, and 46 student apartments that would include 283 student bed spaces. The proposed student apartment blocks would rise to heights of up to five, six and seven stories.

The development is being proposed on a site that takes in parts of the townlands of Cartrontroy, Kilnafaddoge, Lissywollen and Ardnaglug, and which is located beside the Old Rail Trail Greenway and close to the ESB facility in Garrycastle.

The applicant, Avenir Homes Ltd, had sought planning permission directly from the planning board through the Strategic Housing Development mechanism which which permits proposals that consist of more than 100 residential units bypass the local authority planning application stage.

In its ruling signed on June 16, the planning board said it was satisfied that the development would not seriously injure the residential or visual amenities of the area or of property in the vicinity and would be acceptable in terms of pedestrian and traffic safety.

It said it coming to this decision, it had regard to a series of factors including the location of the site at the edge of the built up area in Athlone, the policies and objectives of the various development plans, including the Athlone Town Development Plan 2014-2020 incorporating the Lissywollen South Framework Plan 2018-2024, and the reports by its own planning inspector and the Chief Executive of Westmeath County Council.

The board accepted that a grant of planning permission could contravene the residential density and building height and design objectives of the Athlone Town Development Plan.

However, the planning board utilised powers given to it under the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act to grant permission in material contravention of development plans in certain circumstances.

It cited, among other reasons, the potential of the project to contribute to the achievement of Government policy to increase the delivery of housing.