An iconic factory that once employed up to 800 people in Portarlington is to wiped from the landscape, after a massive fire rendered it derelict.
Demolition and removal of the sprawling 12,000 sq metre Avon Arlington factory on Canal road will begin in the coming days, with the bill footed by the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA).
The work will include the removal of chemical residues in the ground, and is expected to take three to four months.
Laois County Council’s Director of Services Kieran Kehoe announced the demolition at the Port Graiguecullen municipal meeting last Wednesday, November 12.
“A derelict sites notice was issued on the owner, and on the occupier NAMA, albeit temporary, under section 101 of the NAMA act. It requires the demolition of the structure to ground level, and removal and safe disposal of materials,” Mr Kehoe said.
“The work was tendered out by NAMA, and it is due to start shortly, with a 12 to 16 week programme,” he said, noting that local people are to be employed in the work.
He regretted the need for demolition.
“It is a pity but unfortunately a requirement after the huge fire, it had become a danger,” Mr Kehoe said.
As to the future of the large site, the council are hopeful.
“We will start the process with whoever is involved for the future of the site. To be fair to NAMA they have been very willing to engage,” he said.
It is the final nail in the coffin for the iconic factory where for thirty years, hundreds of people worked making jewellery and cosmetics.
Arlington Ltd closed in the late 1990’s with the loss of 400 jobs. It was bought by Clayborne Properties Ltd, who later dissolved, leaving their loans in the hands of NAMA.
Recently it became an attraction for vandals. Gardaí did not confirm if an investigation into the cause of the fire had concluded.
Cllr Aidan Mullins is hoping the site will be reborn for community use.
“I will be liaising with the council to see what happens, but I hope it will be handed over for community use to the council. They are on board with that. There are a number of possibilities, just one being a running track for the athletics club,” he said.