The purpose of the Athlone Outdoor Seating Signage Procedure is to set out the procedure that will be followed by Athlone Municipal District with respect to licensing of outdoor seating areas and appliances in the public realm in the District. This procedure will apply in Athlone and the other towns in the District from 1st May 2019.
Athlone is a thriving business and shopping town with a wealth of history, heritage, arts and culture to explore. The town has a distinctive character and streetscape. Westmeath County Council has invested in a major enhancement project in the town centre with the aim of improving the public realm and greatly enhancing the experience of the town centre for pedestrians.
The provision of outdoor seating can greatly contribute to the vibrancy and ambiance of a town centre. The key tourism features of Athlone are located in the town centre ie. Athlone Castle, the Luan Gallery, the historic west bank area and the River Shannon. The creation of a vibrant town centre with ease of pedestrian access through the main shopping thoroughfare and linking to the main tourist sites will greatly enhance the tourism and retail experience in the Town Centre.
However, the provision of outdoor seating and other appliances (eg.tables,canopies, barriers, advertising boards, planters) along footpaths or pedestrian areas can impact on pedestrians and on the movement of vulnerable users through the town. Such provision can also negatively impact on adjacent retailers. An ad hoc approach to outdoor seating and signage can have an undesirable visual impact on the streetscape and consequently this can impact on the heritage value of buildings and the town as a whole.
The Athlone Town Development Plan 2014–2020 sets out the vision and strategic aims for Athlone. A stated aim in the Athlone Town Development Plan 2014–2020 is to make Athlone town centre a more attractive destination where people will want to live, work, visit, shop and socialise with a diversity of uses and activities during the day and evening. The town centre area reflects the historic and commercial core of Athlone. A core principle of the town centre strategy is to achieve a sustainable high quality urban environment through accepted design principles in new development and to promote the enhancement of the existing streets and public spaces within the town.