Developers have undertaken to the High Court to pause what they say are minor changes to approved office building works in Merrion Square, Dublin, but which are still awaiting planning approval.
The developers, who are working on a new five-storey office block at the Merrion Building, oppose proceedings brought against them by a neighbour over alleged unauthorised development and say it was “improper to waste court time” in this way.
The neighbour is Minoa Ltd, which owns numbers 2 and 3 Merrion Square. It says the office block developers, Persian Properties Unlimited Co and Blue and White Diamond Unlimited, have carried out works currently the subject of an appeal to An Bord Pleanála, which is expected to deliver its decision soon.
On Monday, Minoa was given permission by Mr Justice Charles Meenan to serve short notice of its proceedings on the two defendant companies of Thursday’s return date.
On Thursday, Jarlath Ryan SC, for Minoa, asked that the court set a pre-Christmas date for the hearing of the case, given its urgency.
Michael D O’Connell SC, for the defendants, disagreed there was any urgency given that his clients provided a holding response to Minoa’s complaint of what counsel described as “supposed unauthorised development” in October and a comprehensive response on November 15th. Yet, Mr O’Connell said, it took three weeks for Minoa to bring the proceedings last Monday.
His clients thought the matter had “gone into abeyance” in the way a previous threat by Minoa over an alleged right of way affecting the properties had gone.
Mr O’Connell produced photos for the court which he said showed the works under way related to amendments to approved planning permissions and said the matter awaiting further An Bord Pleanála approval had “literally no impact” on the overall much larger project. What his clients were doing was simply providing a place for cyclists to shower when they cycle to work.
There was no urgency here but his side was prepared to pause works strictly relating to the minor amendments pending the proceedings and to undo those works if the board finds against it. It is possible the board will in the meantime give its decision but it was improper to waste court time on this, he said.
When Mr Ryan, for Minoa, said there appeared to be a concession that unauthorised works were being carried out, Mr O’Connell interjected to say “absolutely not”.
The judge said his concern was whether there was any actual urgency to the matter. “I have to say if it was urgent, you [to Mr Ryan] would have been in court long before November 15th″, he said.
As the undertaking was now accepted by Minoa, he adjourned the matter to next month. If the board gives a decision in the meantime that renders the proceedings pointless, an application could be made to the court, he said.