Cosgrave Property Group is limbering up for court action to overturn planners' refusal to sanction the first phase of a massive housing scheme near Bray, one of the largest proposed residential developments south of the capital.
The group – founded by developer brothers Joseph, Michael and Peter Cosgrave – will next week seek leave from the High Court for a judicial review to reverse An Bord Pleanála's recent decision to block the scheme at Fassaroe, just off the M11 motorway between Bray and Enniskerry.
The overall scheme proposed for lands owned by Cosgrave and CRH envisages – via a Wicklow County Council masterplan – 1,800 new housing units, opening up a new residential belt connecting Old Conna with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.
The revised first phase proposes to include more than 700 housing units, including 438 apartments and 268 houses. It would also have a creche, 30-acre park, three office blocks, a retail centre, a new road and a bridge over the N11.
The scheme received a conditional green light from Wicklow planners last year, despite opposition from locals over traffic and environmental concerns, including Bray Pigeon Club, which has operated from the area for 40 years.
Several objectors, as well as Cosgrave, which rejected some of the conditions imposed by Wicklow planners, then took the case to An Bord Pleanála (ABP).
The board’s inspector recommended overturning the Wicklow decision, and ABP formally rejected the scheme in November.
The board cited the impact the development would have on traffic on the N11/M11, the lack of Luas or other public transport options, and the potential impact the retail outlets could have on nearby Bray town centre. It was also concerned about the impact of three old landfills on the 120-acre site.
This week, Cosgrave hired Dublin law firm Sheehan & Co to mount a court bid to overturn the ABP decision. Such action from developers was common in the heady days of the last property boom, but died away in the crash.
In recent years, most court bids to block ABP decisions have come from objectors. The Cosgrave bid marks a return of developers to the High Court fray, with sources within the planning industry speculating that it will become even more common as builders rush to cash in on the surge in demand for housing.
The Cosgraves accumulated huge tracts of land in the area over many years. The Fassaroe site is adjacent to Dún Laoghaire Golf Club, which moved to lands in the area owned by the Cosgraves, who then took over the club’s old course closer to the city to build about 1,800 houses.
The Cosgrave group is one of the most active homebuilders in the Dublin market, alongside listed builders such as Cairn Homes, and other developers who survived the last boom and crash, such as Kelland Homes.
The Fassaroe scheme would have taken care of a large chunk of the excess demand in the Bray/North Wicklow area. The Government has set a target of 25,000 new homes annually in coming years to meet demand and help to solve the housing crisis.
Cosgrave and ABP were unavailable for comment.