100 new houses earmarked for barracks site
One hundred new houses are set to be built on land at Columb Barracks in the first phase of the multi-million redevelopment of the historic military facility.
Responding to a query from the Westmeath Examiner, the Land Development Agency (LDA) confirmed on Friday that a specialist design team has been appointed “to consider the best route to deliver new homes on this site”
“This preliminary survey work is beginning to determine the capacity of the site, but it is currently envisaged that approximately 100 new homes will be built in the first phase of development, with additional units in subsequent phases.
“Based on the information currently available to the LDA, it is envisaged that an initial phase of construction will commence in late 2021, subject to receipt of the necessary planning approvals.
“As is the case with all sites in which the LDA is involved, the Agency will consult with a wide range of stakeholders, including local residents and community groups, before finalising detailed plans for the site.”
In 2017 Columb Barracks was one of eight state-owned sites included in the Rebuilding Ireland programme as having potential for housing development.
It was estimated that up to 250 houses could be built on land at the barracks.
According to a spokesperson from the Department of Defence, discussions are ongoing with the LDA about the formal transfer of ownership of the site.
Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner this week, Deputy Robert Troy said that he “welcomed the fact there appeared to be a element of progress” on the redevelopment of the barracks. However, he added that he was concerned that ownership of the land hasn’t yet been transferred and that the legislation to give the LDA statutory powers hasn’t been enacted.
“If the pace at which it has taken to bring to this stage is anything to go by, I think the figure of 2021 is very ambitious,” he said.
The barracks is currently home to around 20 community groups, including the Order of Malta, Lakeside Wheelers and the Olympic Boxing Club. Deputy Troy said that he was happy to hear that those groups will be included in the consultation process.
Any redevelopment plans have to “protect the community groups currently using the facility” and include social and affordable housing for “young couples who are working but are priced out of the housing market and unable to get a mortgage”.
“These people should be catered for in any future scheme. We haven’t seen an affordable house built or sold for the best part of nine years in this country. It is high time that an affordable scheme reopened again so that people who are working hard but because of the housing situation that was allowed to get out of control in the last number of years haven’t been in a position to purchase their own house, this is what we should be looking at now,” he said.