Plans for new IDA park in Athlone take step forward

Plans for a second IDA business and technology park for Athlone have taken a major step forward with permission being sought for a road network which would open up access to a 56 acre site of undeveloped land purchased by the IDA in 2020.

Westmeath County Council is due to make a decision next month on a planning application by the IDA for a new access junction and an internal road network at the proposed IDA Business & Technology Park on the N55 (Ballymahon Road).

It's emerged the new Business & Technology Park will be known as the IDA Lissywollen Athlone Business & Technology Park.

According to planning documents which were lodged with the council on December 19 last, IDA Ireland has sought planning permission for a new access junction at the IDA Business & Technology Park on the N55 (Ballymahon Road), including road markings to facilitate a right turn lane. The development will also consist of an internal access road of approximately 465m in length and with a 7m wide carriageway; an internal roundabout and priority junctions; the erection of totem signage at the entrance; landscaped verges; 1.8m wide footpaths; 2m wide cycle lanes and all associated site works.

The standard IDA sign which is proposed for the site entrance will include the IDA Ireland logo and the name Lissywollen Athlone Business & Technology Park

The Indicative Masterplan for the site, which is included in the planning documents identifies nine separate plots on the 56 acre site, and also makes provision for “future expansion” of the access road within the park.

The lands are located to the north of Athlone, just off the N55 Ballymahon Road, between Mayfield Grove and the State Examinations Commission.

The site has the added benefit of a number of adjacent services as well as having frontage on both the N55 and N6 as it stretches from the Ballymahon Road to the Athlone relief road, opposite the Brawny housing development.

The internal access road for which planning permission is being sought will stretch all the way across from the N55 to the N6, making the proposed second Business & Technology Park in Athlone one of the most accessible locations in the country.

The planning application is accompanied by a number of detailed reports including a flood risk assessment; environmental impact assessment; traffic assessment; and engineering planning report and ecological impact assessment.

A detailed Traffic and Transportation Assessment, running to over 160 pages examined three key junctions in the vicinity of the proposed development and made a number of recommendations including that pedestrian footway links with associated dropped kerbing and tactile paving to be provided at all pedestrian crossing points within the site; that the full implementation of the Mobility Management recommendations would “aid in the reduction of car trips for the Park and thus aid in the reduction of the traffic congestion experienced at peak times”; that potential future users of the park would “implement flexible working times” to allow employees start and finish work outside of the projected peak hours for traffic volume, and that consideration should be made for “working from home as a viable choice for employees.”

The Environmental Impact Assessment concludes that the impact on the surrounding environment from the proposed development, during both the construction and operational phases, is “considered to be low.” The conclusions also state that the proposed development “would not be likely to have significant effects on the environment” and that the preparation and submission of an environmental impact assessment report (EIAR) is “not required.”

When the IDA bought the lucrative parcel of land, comprising some 56 acres, in 2020, a spokesperson for the agency described it as being “a future-focused solution for the Midlands region.” The move was described by local Fianna Fail Councillor, Frankie Keena, as portraying a “very strong vote of confidence in the future of the town and Midland region which over time will pave the way to attract further foreign direct investment (FDI) to this area.”

After acquiring the Ballymahon Road site, the IDA submitted a planning application to Westmeath County Council seeking approval to erect some 1,075 metres of new 2.6-metre-high palisade fencing to secure the site’s perimeter at Lissywollen House, Lissywollen. The application also included the replacement of an existing gated entrance on the Ballymahon Road.