Permission for 204 homes in Dublin overturned by court

Strategic housing development was to include 123 houses, 28 duplexes, 53 apartments

The court overturned permission for 204 homes at the proposed Stoney Hill Road strategic housing development in Rathcoole. Architectural CGI of Stoney Hill Road strategic housing development in Rathcoole

Planning permission for the development of 204 homes in Rathcoole, Co Dublin, has been overturned by the High Court.

On Wednesday, Mr Justice Richard Humphreys agreed to quash the approval, secured by Homeville Developments Ltd in November 2020, on account of two legal flaws identified by four residents’ groups.

The judicial review action was brought against An Bord Pleanála by Four Districts Woodlands Habitat Group, BCM Residents Association, Rathcoole Park Residents Association, and Forest Hill Residents Association, all with different addresses in Rathcoole.

The strategic housing development was to consist of 123 three-to-four-bed houses, 28 duplexes, 53 apartments, a childcare facility and associated works at Stoney Hill Road in Rathcoole.


The residents persuaded Mr Justice Humphreys that the permission materially contravened the local development plan in relation to the scheme’s density and the level of hedgerow removal required for the build.

The local plan, the judge said, required the scheme’s density to be “in accordance with” 2009 Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Sustainable Residential Development in Urban Areas. The guidelines prescribe that the appropriate density for this project would fall in the range of 20 to 35 dwellings per hectare, whereas this build would be 40 units per hectare, he said.

Mr Justice Humphreys said An Bord Pleanála failed to give lawful consideration to the materiality of the density contravention.

The board’s permission also fell down in its consideration of the removal of 674 metres of hedges, which equates to almost half of the site’s hedgerows, the judge said.

“Mature or indeed ancient hedgerows are just not equivalently replaceable by freshly created ones,” he said.

The judge said that An Bord Pleanála and its inspector did not pause to consider whether the development plan was being contravened due to this level of hedgerow removal.

Mr Justice Humphreys noted there were “numerous defects” in the residents’ legal pleadings, “shortcomings” in their procedural approach, and “potentially winning points” they did not include in their case.

Due to these, he said, it “might perhaps appear unfortunate” from the opposing parties’ perspectives that the residents managed to come up with two winning arguments.

“That only goes to illustrate the general proposition that an applicant only has to win on something whereas the opposing parties have to win on everything,” he remarked.

The judge quashed the permission and adjourned the case to be mentioned at a later date.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is High Court Reporter with The Irish Times