Court action aims to quash permission for Dún Laoghaire apartment scheme

Applicants claim An Bord Pleanála erred in allowing 100 build-to-rent units

An action aimed at quashing planning permission for 100 build-to-rent apartments and two retail units in two blocks in Dún Laoghaire's Seafront Quarter has been initiated in the High Court.

The grounds of challenge include claims An Bord Pleanála erred in permitting a development including a 13-storey block in material contravention of height and other objectives of the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Development Plan. The challenge is by Crofton Buildings Management CLG, manager of the Harbour View apartment development adjacent to the development site on St Michael's Hospital lands at Crofton Road, and Stephanie Bourke, of Carrickbrennan Road, Monkstown, who owns an apartment in Harbour View. The case is against the board. The developer, Fitzwilliam DL Limited, is a notice party.

On Wednesday, Mr Justice Charles Meenan told Stephen Dodd SC, for the applicants, he was satisfied they met the threshold necessary for leave to bring the judicial review proceedings.

Section 9.6 of the 2016 Act on strategic housing developments (SHD), which provides the board can grant permission for a development even if that materially contravenes a local development or area plan, was at the heart of the case, he noted.


The applicants claim the board acted outside its powers and/or in breach of section 9.6 in how it addressed issues including building height, retail and residential use, and car parking spaces.

The case concerns the board’s approval last April for a SHD involving demolition of a two-storey vacant dwelling and construction of 100 build-to-rent apartments and two retail units, with associated private residential amenity space, and a cafe unit.

Mr Dodd said Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Council considered the proposed development was in material contravention of the county development plans for reasons including its height. The board may permit developments which materially contravene development or local area plans only in circumstances specified by section 32b of the 2016 Act and the board had misinterpreted those, it is claimed.

The development materially contravened the development plan in relation to the town centre and retail use zoning of the area, counsel said. While the board tried to “get around” that by reason of the development including two retail units, it acted outside its powers in doing so.

Protected skyline

The board also erred in permitting development in material contravention of objectives of the development plan concerning building height and the protected skyline of Dún Laoghaire, he said.

The development plan noted traditional building height within the area is typically two to four storeys, with some post-war developments of about four to five storeys and more recent schemes extending up to a maximum of seven storeys.

The plan said, generally, only the spires of St Michael’s Church and Mariners’ Church and the tower of the County Hall rise above the urban skyline.

An objective of the area’s urban structure plan required the hierarchical relationship between long-established landmark buildings and new infill development be maintained and the board erred in concluding these plans set no criteria concerning building height as they clearly set height limits, counsel said.

The 13-storey apartment block, at 51.475 metres high, would be higher than the tower of the County Hall, clearly breaching the development plan, while the second block would be 37 metres high, he said.

The board also erred in considering the “unique” Dún Laoghaire skyline was not protected. The board further erred in considering this was a “landmark” building, counsel said. A council report considered the 13-storey tower had no civic purpose or meaning and would detract from the area’s character and the long-distance skyline views that characterise it, it is claimed.

Other grounds include the board erred in permitting a development with just three car parking spaces and in how it considered the impact of the development on the daylight of residents of Harbour View. The matter has been returned to November.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times