High Court dismisses challenges to demolish 19th-century house in Howth

Site was granted permission for 32-apartment scheme by An Bord Pleanála

The judge rejected claims that An Bord Pleanála failed to recognise that demolishing Graymount House in Howth would contravene a local development plan

The High Court has dismissed two challenges to permission for a 32-apartment development requiring the demolition of a 19th-century property in Howth, Dublin.

In a ruling on Friday, Mr Justice Anthony Barr rejected claims that An Bord Pleanála failed to recognise that demolishing Graymount House would contravene a local development plan objective to retain historic building stock.

The judge noted the board’s inspector observed the house was in poor condition with few original features left and inappropriate additions made to it over the years. The inspector had concluded the house did not contribute substantially to the character of the area, said Mr Justice Barr.

The judge was satisfied the inspector could decide that the building, while of some antiquity, was not deserving of protection.


Mr Justice Barr rejected all grounds of challenge advanced by Graymount House Action Group and Howth residents Aoife Grimes and Darragh Richardson. Together they asked the court to quash An Bord Pleanála’s approval for the demolition to make way for a four-storey block at Dungriffin Road.

Christian Morris, of Claremont Road, Howth, brought a separate judicial review over the same decision of the board to grant approval to Trafalgar Capital Ltd.

Fingal County Council had earlier approved the project, but this was appealed by third parties.

Mr Justice Barr dismissed all grounds of challenge on Friday.

Among their claims was that the density of the development was too high, as it was 1.6km away from Howth Dart station and an exception to typical density restrictions only applies to projects based within 1.5km of a Dart station.

Mr Justice Barr said this was not a sustainable basis for striking down the permission. Guidelines can be “general in nature” and do not require “rigid or slavish adherence”, he said.

He was also unconvinced by the claim that An Bord Pleanála did not adequately consider alleged traffic hazards posed by the development, particularly in relation to narrow footpaths in the area.

He said the board’s inspector reached a logical and rational conclusion on the uncontroverted expert evidence about the level of traffic likely to be generated. He said the applicant’s proposition was “untenable” given the “almost negligible impact of the traffic” from the development at peak hours.

Mr Justice Barr dismissed all of the other grounds advanced by the Graymount Group, Mr Richardson, of Thormanby Lawns, and Ms Grimes, of Dungriffin Road. Mr Morris, legally representing himself, had adopted the submissions made by the other challengers but argued additional legal grounds, which the judge also dismissed.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

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