A residents' group has brought a High Court challenge to planning permission for 101 apartments in two blocks of up to seven storeys on the edge of Blackrock village in Dublin.
An Bord Pleanála last April approved the plan by Seabren Developments for the apartments on a 1.2 acre site of the former Europa Garage on the corner of Newtown Avenue and Maretimo Terrace.
Maretimo Gardens East and Blackrock House Residents' Association was granted leave on Wednesday by Mr Justice Max Barrett to challenge the permission.
During planning application stage some 35 people made submissions including former MEP and Maretimo Gardens East resident Pat Cox who said there were serious concerns among locals about the scale and density of the development.
Cormac McNamara BL, on behalf of the residents, made a one-side only represented application for leave to challenge the permission.
Counsel was also granted leave to bring an application in July for a protective costs order, which allows a litigant to seek protection against costly legal bills when the case is a matter of public interest.
Mr McNamara said the challenge was based on grounds including that An Bord Pleanála’s process for considering whether an environmental impact assessment (EIA) was required was wholly insufficient. There was no evidence the board was provided with sufficient information to carry out this screening process before it decided an EIA was not needed, he said.
It is claimed the board applied the incorrect statutory interpretation when considering whether an EIA was needed for this development.
The planning application was lodged directly to the board because it was deemed a strategic infrastructure development in the context of the Government’s policy on increasing housing supply which meant it did not first go before the local authority.
Entitled to override
This meant that the board was entitled to override the provisions of the local development plan. As a result it did not take into account that the local policy was to limit one-bed apartments to 20 per cent whereas the board decided it should be 50 per cent, counsel said.
It also could disregard the local development policy which said the height of such developments should be no more than four storeys but the residents argued this was unconstitutional.
It was their case that there were breaches of article 15.3 and 28A of the Constitution which recognise the role of local government in democratic representation.
The special requirements for such developments introduced by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage were in breach of the Constitution because of the way they excused material contraventions of the local development plan and therefore the powers of local government, counsel said.
On this basis, counsel said, the decision of the board was flawed and should be quashed.