Court dismisses developer challenge to planning refusal for 142 Meath homes

Manley had applied for fast-track approval for 82 houses and 60 apartments off Navan Rd

The High Court has dismissed a judicial review challenge brought by a development company over An Bord Pleanála’s refusal to grant planning permission for 142 homes in Duleek, Co Meath.

Manley Construction Ltd had applied directly to the planning board early last year for fast-track approval for a Strategic Infrastructure Development (SHD) of 82 houses and 60 apartments proposed for a 5.6-hectare site off the Navan Road.

The board refused permission citing a contravention of the Meath County Development Plan in relation to the zoning of the lands. Categorised as “A2 New Residential Phase II”, the site was “not available for residential development” within the life of the 2013-2019 plan.

In a judgment, Mr Justice David Holland noted that Manley argued the board should not have applied a High Court judgment overturning permission for a development in Rathmullen, Co Meath, in making its decision to refuse permission on this occasion.


In that action the board made and lost, in effect, the argument Manley made in this case against the Highlands Residents Association in relation to the phasing stipulation of the land’s zoning, said the judge.

‘Clear authority’

Mr Justice Holland said the Highlands judgment provided “clear authority” that the words of the Duleek Written Statement – stating that the lands are not for residential development “within the life of the development plan” – were “integral” to and part of the specific zoning objectives. The judge placed emphasis on the “plain meaning” of this phrasing.

For this reason, the judge concluded the board was correct in deciding it was precluded from granting the permission sought by Manley.

The judge also did not agree with Manley’s assertion that, as its planning application post-dated 2019, the phasing requirement for the zone contained in the 2013-2019 plan was no longer applicable.

As the extension of the plan occurred pursuant to statutory processes, one should not infer an intention that the content of a development plan would be automatically altered during such extension, he said.

Mr Justice Holland said Manley repeatedly complained the board’s decision had wrongly deprived it of the benefit of residential zoning of its land, “as if the board took something from Manley which otherwise would have kept or as it had changed a pre-existing zoning”. He noted the board merely interpreted the planning status of the lands, which had been in place since at least 2014.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter