A NEW €200m town centre quarter has been given the planning green light in Mullingar,
Central Mullingar will be the largest retail centre in the midlands, along with residential units, offices, a cultural building and leisure facilities.
Westmeath County Council has granted planning permission to Bennett Developments to create a 36,000 sqm scheme. When complete, the new project will provide 1,500 jobs for the town.
This will include 22,000 sqm of retail, 84 residential units, 645 sqm of offices, a cultural building, cinema, more than 1,400 car spaces, a medical centre, creche, restaurants and cafes.
Work on Central Mullingar will commence immediately, with completion planned for spring 2011.
"The scheme will act as a catalyst for further investment in Mullingar and benefit the community as a whole," Eugene Moore, managing director of Bennet Developments, commented.
"We look forward to achieving this aim and creating a superb new centre for the people of Mullingar and the surrounding region.
"Central Mullingar will provide a much-needed boost for the area, in terms of attracting new retailers, shoppers and most importantly jobs -- 3,500 people will be employed in the construction phase and 1,500 jobs will be created on completion of the centre."
Mullingar-based Bennett Developments was chosen as the preferred developer by Westmeath County Council following a design competition to rejuvenate the Blackhall area in the centre of the town.
Bennett has worked closely with international architects Building Design Partnership (BDP) to create an accessible urban quarter in a diverse mix of architectural styles that complement the existing urban fabric of the town.
"The scheme has not been designed as a closed shopping environment but as an open, organic continuation of the existing town centre," Mr Moore added.
"Linkages were an integral part of the design and the scheme knits well with the established urban fabric.
"The purpose is not to detract from the existing streets, but to increase the attraction of Mullingar as a town in which to live and shop."
With a catchment of 344,000 people within a 40 minute drive of the town, central Mullingar is set to be a much-needed retail draw for the people of the region.
The midlands contain the largest population of any gateway after Dublin and Cork.
"The population of Mullingar and the midlands has exploded over the past decade and now rates just behind the main cities of Dubin and Cork.
"There is therefore a major need for a large retail centre with a wide selection of retailers," Mr Moore continued.
"The people of the region will no longer have to travel to access top retailers, they will be available right here on their doorstep in Mullingar."
Agents for the scheme are Savills Hamilton Osborne King.