A view of the planning notice and part of the site in the background which is located to the rear of the Colm Quinn BMW garage, just off the Bullet Road.

Major Cornamaddy housing proposal paused

Westmeath County Council has pressed the pause button on a proposal for over 330 homes on a parcel of land in Athlone, after it requested that the applicant responds to “technical matters” raised by 13 local submissions, submit a revised layout to incorporate “usable open space areas” and noise mitigation measures among several items of further information before a final decision can be made.

Details of the new Large Scale Residential Development Scheme (LRD) emerged planning documents lodged at the end of March by a company called Akiyda Ltd, who are seeking a ten-year planning permission for 332 residential units and a creche, on 12.28 hectares in the Cornamaddy and Ballykeeran townlands, a small portion of which is owned by the local authority.

On May 22 last, the council said several items of further information were needed to assist in fully assessing the merits of the application, including noise mitigation measures to address impacts to external gardens of the houses along the N55, a revised design solution to address overlooking of an existing residential unit due to the design and proximity of the duplex units, while the siting and orientation to the northern boundary and quality of daylight coming into the proposed apartments was also questioned.

Two ramps proposed for speed control at the entrance should be removed, the local authority added, and a revised proposal should be lodged to provide for one table type speed control. Another element requested was an archaeological impact assessment, and that the social housing unit element be mixed and distributed throughout the development rather than concentrated in one area.

Access to the proposed residential development is via the existing roundabout onto the N55 Ballymahon Road. Maps show the site is positioned on land to the rear of the BMW garage, just off what’s known as Bullet Road.

According to the plans submitted to Westmeath County Council, a total of 172 units in what is described as Ballykeeran Gardens in the planning report would be two-storey dwellings, 152 of which would be three bed units and 20 four bed units. Another 160 apartments/duplex units would consist of 36 one bed units, 99 two bed units 25 three bed homes.

The apartment blocks would range in height from two storey to four storeys and the duplex blocks from two storey to three storeys high.

The plans attracted 13 local submissions, who raised a huge variety of issues from the lack of open spaces, green areas and playgrounds to the traffic impact, loss of privacy, concerns about the design of the project, the housing mix, the scale and the appropriateness of the location close to a rural backdrop.

Destruction of trees, badger and bat habitats were raised by others, while several submissions described the Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) as "not fit for purpose".

Should the new housing plan be successful, Akiyda Ltd is proposing to construct the residential scheme in three phases, the first of which covers 152 units that would be complete by 2027. Phase two, another 148 homes would be due to be finished by 2029, and phase three, just 32 houses, is pencilled in for completion in 2032.

The apartment blocks would range in height from two storey to four storeys and the duplex blocks from two storey to three storeys high.

In addition there would be a two-storey creche building, and an associated plaza which would create a neighbourhood centre, according to the applicant, while 413 parking spaces, 225 bike spaces, electric car charging points and bicycle/bin storage on-site would also be provided in the project

The provision of a new link road via adjacent lands (Marina Quarter) to the west to provide for vehicular, pedestrian and cyclist access is also mentioned in the proposal.

The applicant now has six months to address the further information request to allow the council to make a final decision.