Court rejects challenge to permission for 232 homes on former monastery lands

Permission for scheme in Wicklow village of Delgany challenged by 10 local residents in High Court judicial review

A computer-generated image of the scheme proposed for the former Carmelite convent site in Delgany, Co Wicklow

The High Court has rejected a challenge to permission for the development of more than 200 homes on former monastery lands in Co Wicklow.

Giving judgment on Wednesday, Mr Justice Richard Humphreys refused to quash An Bord Pleanála’s fast-track approval of the scheme proposed for Delgany by developer Drumakilla Limited.

An Bord Pleanála granted permission in February 2021 for the construction of 232 homes on a 6.2-hectare site sold by an order of Carmelite nuns for €15 million in 2019.

Located between Convent Road and Bellevue Hill, the proposed development would include 96 houses, 136 apartments over two four-storey blocks, and five three-storey duplex blocks.

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The former Carmelite monastery, as a protected structure, would be retained with public open space in front of it.

The permission was challenged by 10 local residents in a High Court judicial review action against the board, the Minister for Housing, the Attorney General and Ireland. The developer was a notice party.

Mr Justice Humphreys rejected various arguments made by the applicants, including their contention that the board’s decision was invalid due to its assessment of the impact the development would have on traffic in the greater Delgany area.

Another claim, relating to the unit density and zoning of the site, “misunderstands the concept of a zoning provision”, the judge said.

The locals also challenged the National Parks and Wildlife Service’s grant of a derogation licence, permitting the potential disturbance of bats. He felt this element of the case did not crystallise until late in the hearing so he has offered the parties an opportunity to make further submissions on points relating to the derogation.

He said the applicants did not contend in their legal documents that the planning permission was invalid because of an alleged invalidity in the derogation licence.

The judge had made an order in April 2021 preventing works from being carried out on the development. He continued this on Wednesday “until further order”, with the parties able to apply to court for its removal.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

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