The reversal of a rezoning in a local plan was wrong in law, it was claimed in the High Court.
The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government was wrong to direct county councillors to reverse a rezoning in a local plan which would affect the location of more than 300 new houses in Kildare, it has been claimed.
McCarthy Meats, of Clane, Co Kildare, wants the court to quash the Minister’s August 18th, 2016, direction to members of Kildare County Council to reverse their March 2016 decision to rezone 30 acres owned by the company at Bodenstown, Sallins, for housing. The council is a notice party in the case.
The minister required councillors to revert to a provision in the 2009 local area plan in which a different 30 acres, also owned by the meat company, was zoned for housing and other uses.
The minister argued the location of the housing in the councillors’ decision was peripheral and breached the “core strategy” of the local plan.
The directive was issued under Section 31 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 which gives the minister power to order change if a plan fails to set out an overall strategy for proper planning and sustainable development.
McCarthy Meats says the minister was wrong in law and in fact in making the disputed decision. It says the lands are not peripheral and are beside existing housing.
The minister denies the claims and opposes the meat firm’s judicial review proceedings.
It is also claimed there is strong local support for the councillors’ chosen location amid concerns about the need for amenity/open space land in the area.
On Thursday, Jim O’Callaghan SC, for McCarthy Meats, argued the Minister’s decision was not valid including on grounds there was no evidence before him that councillors ignored submissions from the Minister before they made their rezoning decision.
The minutes of the councillors’ meeting showed it was fully considered and in no way could it be said they ignored it, counsel said.
The minister’s claim the decision was not in compliance with the local area plan did not stand up to scrutiny, he said.
The material before the minister was clearly wrong because, in a briefing note, it was stated these were unzoned lands when they have in fact been previously zoned (residential/open space/educational and agricultural) in a pre-existing plan, he said. The Minister was also told this was a greenfield and peripheral site which the McCarthy Meats side say is incorrect.
“The information before the minister was inadequate and led him to go down an unlawful route, ” counsel said.
Conor Power SC, for the minister, in his submissions, said current law is based on the 2010 Planning and Development Amendment Act which provides “plan-led” rather than “developer-led” planning. It arose out of concerns about unsustainable development throughout this country during the economic boom.
McCarthy Meats was entitled to make submissions to have a plan changed, but had no right to obtain such a change unless that is in accordance with guidelines and standards, counsel said.
The case continues before Mr Justice Mark Heslin.