Meat company loses challenge over Minister’s reversal of Kildare rezoning

McCarthy Meats wanted orders quashing ministerial direction to council

McCarthy Meats claimed the Minister was wrong in law and in fact in making the decision. Photograph: iStock

McCarthy Meats claimed the Minister was wrong in law and in fact in making the decision. Photograph: iStock

 

The High Court has rejected a challenge to a direction from the Minister for Housing Planning and Local Government reversing a councillors’ rezoning decision in a local plan in Kildare.

McCarthy Meats, of Clane, Co Kildare, had sought orders quashing the Minister’s August 18th, 2016, direction that Kildare County Council reverse a councillors’ March 2016 decision to rezone 30 acres owned by the company at Bodenstown, Sallins, for housing. They also rezoned another 40 acres there for open space amenity and educational purposes.

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 claimed the Minister was wrong in law and in fact in making the decision. It said the lands are not peripheral and are beside existing housing.

The Minister opposed the firm’s judicial review proceedings.

Mr Justice Mark Heslin, in a judgment published on Thursday, said an analysis of the evidence did not support the firm’s contention that the Minister relied on any error when issuing his direction or that it was vitiated by error.

He was unable to find that the Minister was given erroneous information upon which he relied when issuing the direction, the judge said.

The evidence did not support the claim the Minister erred in law and the reasons for the direction were “clear, cogent and comprehensive”.

The judge said McCarthy Meats, in its arguments, had painted a picture of the Minister ignoring views of local Sallins people and of the councillors championing their views, resulting in an unlawful direction.

‘Wholly unfair’

This characterisation was “wholly unfair” on the evidence and ignored the nature of a County Development Plan which another judge had described as containing a “solemn and common public contract”, he said.

The Minister’s decision, as was clear from the evidence, was made in order to preserve the integrity of the plan in furtherance of the common good, he said.

Regardless of how sincerely held were the views of the elected members, it did not follow the views of the local Sallins community that represents what was in the common good, he said.

The common good is served by an adherence to statutory requirements, he said.