Columb Barracks: ‘Open the gates to public consultation’

The Columb Barracks Restoration and Regeneration Committee (CBRRC) are working on a campaign for the regeneration of the barracks into a sustainable community resource for Mullingar and wider Westmeath.

The campaign aims to spread awareness of the potential for the barracks site as a 21st century community hub.

The CBRRC has developed a draft vision statement on potential uses for the site as a vibrant, community-owned and operated centre that will contribute socially, economically, environmentally and educationally, and be a hub for community-based innovation, serving the needs of the town, county and the midlands.

The vision statement can be viewed on the website and on the CBRRC social media channels.

Committee founder and chair Helen Donnelly said: “The committee was founded to lobby for the barracks to be kept as a community resource for the people of the town and to provide a facility for cultural activities and the promotion of sustainable living and the circular economy.”

Columb Barracks could provide education and other community services, incorporating renewable energy, zero waste, and other environmentally sustainable and economically viable activities, the CBRRC say.

It would act as an agent for the spread of these ideas and practices, and for the transformation of Mullingar into a transition town which embodies sustainable living.

This civic space would also provide a home for the multitude of artists, musicians and events professionals who live in Mullingar and the surrounding area.

Spokesperson Ali Morris said: “In this time of Covid, we urgently need a space where people can congregate safely and in a meaningful way. The government has launched a new initiative, providing funding for the development of outdoor cultural spaces and we believe the barracks is the ideal location for such a space. It would also provide employment, tourism and revenue-generation opportunities for the town.”

Ms Morris said the group have had assurances from representatives that the community would be involved in any decision with the Land Development Agency (LDA) about the future development of the barracks, but they believe the site is far more valuable to the town in the long run as a cultural centre and civic space, than a housing site.

The CBRRC is a voluntary association. Members include architects, engineers, scientists, adult education specialists, environmental specialists, events professionals, design and communications specialists.

CBRRC Committee: Ali Morris, Claire Cable, Helen Donnelly, Andrea Cullen, Louis Peppard, Luke Peppard, Paula Griffin, Michelle Sherwood, Rob McDermott, Frank Byrne, Noel O’Callaghan, Jack O’Sullivan, Gary Glesson, Jason McKevitt, Des Walsh, Jack Kiernan, Bernie Markey, Brian Sheridan.

CBRRC Design and Communications Sub Committee: Andrea Cullen, Ali Morris, Luke Peppard, Cian Burke, Sarah Jane Foster, Tanya O’Neill, Tanya Cullen, Verona McQuaid, Gary Gleeson, Deaglan Campbell, Conor English.