Equine centre developer challenges refusal to extend planning permission

Covid-19 construction lockdown blamed for delay in ‘three-quarter complete’ €7m Kilternan centre

A High Court challenge has been brought against Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown’s Co Council’s refusal to extend the duration of a planning permission granted for works at a state-of -the-art equestrian facility.

A High Court challenge has been brought against Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown’s Co Council’s refusal to extend the duration of a planning permission granted for works at a state-of -the-art equestrian facility.

 

A High Court challenge has been brought against Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown’s Co Council’s refusal to extend the duration of a planning permission granted for works at a state-of -the-art equestrian facility.

The action has been brought by the facility’s developers Nijinsky Property Co Ltd and businessman Luke Comer.

The court heard the Leixlip-based developers need the planning permission extended so they can complete development, which will cost more than €7 million to build, at lands located adjacent to the Kilternan Hotel, in south Co Dublin.

In 2016, the applicants secured planning permission from An Bord Pleanála to develop a “centre of excellence for equine breeding and training” on lands that had formerly been a golf course.

They secured permission to develop a three-story stable building, which will include a veterinary clinic, 36 dorm rooms, a viewing area on the second floor and horse boxes.

Projects

The proposed development also includes two gallops, a parade circuit, an equine pool, an agriculture shed, access roads and a car park.

The court heard that due to the moratorium on building projects arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic, construction on the development experienced delays from March-April of 2020 onwards.

Works that were due to be done in early 2020 had to be put off to earlier this year, it is claimed.

The 2016 permission, which is the standard five years in duration is due to expire in December. The applicants applied to the local authority for an extension to the planning permission but, in early August, the council refused the extension.

The developers claim the council’s decision is wrong and have brought judicial review proceedings seeking to overturn the refusal, which it says is unreasonable and contrary to plain reason and common sense.

The council, it is further claimed, has erred in law in the manner in which it arrived at its decision and has failed to give appropriate reasons for its refusal, the developers claim.

Represented by Michael O’Donnell, the applicants seek various orders and declarations, including an order quashing the council’s decision to refuse to extend the planning permission.

They further seek declarations including that they were entitled to a decision to have the duration of the planning permission extended and that the works that have already been carried out should be taken into consideration.

Counsel said that, generally, planning permissions are extended in cases where substantial works on the development have already been completed.

Mr O’Donnell told the court that, to date, 75 per cent of the works on the development have been completed and some €5.5 million had been spent on what will be one of the finest facilities of its type.

Cases

In addition, he argued, permission can be extended in cases where the proposed works were not carried out due to circumstances beyond the developer’s control.

Mr O’Donnell said the project had been delayed due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In its decision, the council did not accept that substantial works had been carried out, nor did it agree that the delays were due to matters outside of the applicant’s control.

In his submissions, Mr O’Donnell said that the decision was “difficult to understand” especially as the case law very much favoured his clients.

Mr Justice Anthony Barr granted the applicants permission, on an ex-parte basis, to bring the challenge against the council’s decision. The judge made the action returnable to a date in October when the new legal term commences.