The Save Roscommon campaign has been a success as County Roscommon’s boundary is to be protected in a new law that will also set up a new committee to develop Athlone in a cooperative way, Minister Denis Naughten has confirmed.
“As a result of my work with Ministers Eoghan Murphy and John Paul Phelan on designating Athlone as a major centre in the new National Planning Framework we have now received Cabinet approval to put a new cooperative structure in place which allows Athlone to develop in a coordinated manner while protecting Roscommon’s county boundary,” explained Minister Naughten.
“A new legally established joint structure will deal with the development and other interests of both parts of the town of Athlone, rather than altering the county boundary. This will be underpinned by a new law of which will provide clarity once and for all by protecting the existing county boundary and removing the possibility of any disagreement in the future.
“The statutory joint structure will be composed of equal membership from both Roscommon and Westmeath County Councils. It will have designated responsibility for development and planning including responsibility for certain key strategic matters beyond the existing standard functions of Councils, especially in relation to spatial and economic planning and development.
“These structures will also have responsibility for transportation strategy, forward planning and land use designation, and retail strategy as well as any other such matters as both Roscommon and Westmeath Councils agree. Such structures will not, however, have responsibility for delivering existing functions of Roscommon County Council except with the express agreement of the Council.”
Minister Naughten added: “There will be a new clear legal guarantee for the permanent integrity of the identity of County Roscommon and traditional allegiance through legislative provision to copper-fasten the status of counties as territorial units.
“It expected that this new legal protection will be included in a Local Government Bill to be published by the end of May 2018.”