An image showing what the new squash centre would look like.

State-of-the-art new squash centre approved

Athlone Squash Club looks set to be the envy of clubs all over the Midlands and West in the future - after ambitious plans for a new state-of-the-art squash centre got the green light in recent days.

The proposed facility, located close to Athlone Regional Sports Centre (ARSC), was granted planning permission on May 31 last, and will consist of three indoor squash courts, changing facilities, storage, toilets and an outdoor padel court.

Padel is a game which is a cross between squash and tennis in that it involves a net, but there is a back wall on both sides. It’s not as strenuous as squash and is suited to people who may feel their level of fitness is not sufficient for the more energetic squash game.

Athlone Squash Club initially lodged the plans for the new centre close to the ARSC car park in October last year, but they were subsequently withdrawn.

The club, which was founded in 2019, submitted the proposals for the 0.209 hectare site owned by Westmeath County Council for a second time in early April.

It follows on from a feasibility study carried out by MMA Architects, funded by Leader and supported by Westmeath County Council.

Although Athlone Squash Club was founded three years ago, there is currently no place in the vicinity of the town to play the popular game.

In order to provide squash playing opportunities, the club has linked up with Clara Sports & Leisure Centre and the club has organised tournaments in the Offay town in recent times.

Should the approved plans move forward to construction in the near future, Athlone Squash Club will join a growing sports campus adjacent to the busy Athlone Regional Sports Centre (ARSC) which boasts an outdoor fitness park, skate park, playground and astro turf pitch. Athlone Tennis Club has already embarked on a new court development beside ARSC.

The local club hopes the squash clubhouse could be a magnet for the Midlands region in terms of the revival of the game and promoting it to young people in the wider area by increasing its visibility to the public on such a prominent and well used site.

Beginning with three state of the art, glass-backed courts, the new centre would support hundreds of players with an option to expand if demand requires.

The project has been part funded to date by the Rural Development Programme, 2014 to 2020, and the club is also extremely thankful to Westmeath County Council and Westmeath Community Development for getting the project to this stage.

The plans were approved subject to five planning conditions, which include the submission of a Construction and Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) and a Construction and Demolition Resource Waste Management Plan before work begins.

Another stipulation from Westmeath County Council is that the centre only be used for sporting and recreational purposes and not for the sale of food or beverages or any other commercial purpose, unless written consent is garnered from the local authority.

There were no local submissions in relation to the project, however, the TII, formerly the National Roads Authority, did recommend in a submission that a Traffic and Transport Assessment be carried out given the proximity to the national road network.