ABOVE: The former Texas Centre, the site of the proposed new entertainment centre in Irishtown. A final decision on the plans has been delayed again.


Ambitious plans to transform the former Texas Centre, Irishtown into a €2m indoor entertainment centre have been hit with another setback after the council sought more detail from the developers in relation to the noise impact assessment report for the project.


On Tuesday May 19, Westmeath County Council opted for the second time to seek a clarification of further information data supplied by Steinford Investments Fund, the applicant behind proposals for what they are calling “Ireland’s most technologically advanced” family entertainment centre in the heart of town which could create 40 new jobs. This move pushes a final decision down the line yet again, possibly for several months or more.


In the latest request to applicants, the local authority said a Noise Impact Assessment prepared by AWN Consulting “refers to a bowling alley” and “does not fully address the potential noise impact from the facility as proposed in the planning application”. They are unhappy that a proposed roller disco “has not been considered” in the study and that the bowling alley “appears to be a new addition.”


“You are requested to clarify the use proposed and submit a revised Noise Impact Assessment to address all potential noise nuisance sources from the proposed facility,” Westmeath County Council stated, and the backers have six months to do so before they finally find out if they can press ahead with the project which they believe will revitalise a largely vacant space over the last decade.


Steinford Investments Fund, the owners of the former Texas Centre since 2017, later signed an agreement with Elevate Entertainment to launch a “unique leisure experience” in Athlone by the end of 2020, pending planning approval, but the latest delays mean that kind of timeframe is effectively out the window.


Initially lodged in September last year, the project has been parked for months now, since the council first sought further information on several elements of the plans back in November. It was subsequently lodged in January but the decision-making process was held up again when the local authority asked for another clarification of noise impact data lodged. Now, for a second time, the council is unhappy with the response from the developer, and they have more questions about potential noise impacts of parts of the development.


If the family-oriented attraction comes to pass, it would bring activities like go-karting, roller disco, Ireland’s largest Nerf Gun arena, a Nerf shooting gallery and store, as well as the latest technology in virtual reality and augmented reality experiences to Athlone under what roof spanning over 4,000 square metres on three floors.

Four submissions lodged by nearby businesses and residents in relation to the original plans raised issues like the potential traffic impact, noise, opening hours and parking issues.

Source: Independent Westmeath, Author: Deirdre Verney