Cairn Homes’ RTÉ site plans delayed

Planners say they will consent to court order quashing permission granted in September

Cairn Homes' plan to build more than 600 dwellings on its high-profile RTÉ site faces delays after the High Court heard that An Bord Pleanála made an error in its decision to grant the project permission.

An Bord Pleanála gave housebuilder Cairn permission in September to construct 611 apartments, townhouses, a park and amenities on a site in Montrose, Dublin, which the company bought from RTÉ.


Following a legal challenge by Chris Comerford, Pat Desmond and John Gleeson, from nearby Ailesbury Road, An Bord Pleanála told the High Court on Thursday that it would agree to an order quashing its decision to grant Cairn permission.


The board confirmed that this was due to a recently identified administrative error in processing Cairn’s application.

On consent of the sides, the judge adjourned the matter for mention only on February 8th when the court will address the consequences of expected concessions from An Bord Pleanála.

“While this will undoubtedly lead to a delay in our development of this unique residential development, we understand that Cairn’s high quality design and the consented scheme is not at issue in the board’s decision to withdraw,” Cairn said in a statement.

The Ailesbury Road locals have also challenged the constitutionality of provisions of the Strategic Housing Act, which fast-tracks planning for large residential developments.


Arising from Thursday's development in the case and correspondence between lawyers for the applicants and the planning board, a hearing date fixed later this year for the challenge was vacated on Thursday by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys.

In July last year, the High Court granted leave to the three Ailesbury Road residents to challenge An Bord Pleanála's decision to deal with Cairn Homes Properties Ltd's application to develop the site under the Strategic Housing Act.

The Act allows developers planning to build more than 100 homes to seek permission directly from An Bord Pleanála, bypassing the local council.

The board had at that stage agreed to consider Cairn’s application for permission under the Act but had not yet decided it.

When the board subsequently granted permission for the development in September, the High Court directed the residents’ challenge to this decision could be merged with the earlier challenge.

The residents’ constitutional challenge includes claims that certain provisions of the Strategic Housing Act breach their rights under the Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights.


In their action against the decision to grant Cairn planning permission, the residents say the proposed development immediately adjoins the rear wall of Mr Desmond’s family home, and is located “extremely close” to the family homes of the other two.

The proposed development comprises 611 apartments in nine blocks up to 10 storeys high, three townhouses, two cafes, one childcare facility and change of use of an existing Regency villa to a private members club and gym.

The applicants say the development is of a scale and density far in excess of what is permitted under the Dublin city development plan, would overlook and overshadow their homes and be “totally out of keeping” with an area consisting of low-rise Victorian or Edwardian-type houses.

The development would have an impact not just on the applicants' properties, which include protected structures, but on other protected structures and important public buildings in the area, including Montrose House, Mount Errol House and the important 1960s Scott Talon Walker building housing the existing RTÉ studios, they claimed.

Cairn Homes said on Thursday that it had not intended beginning work on the RTÉ site this year and would be active on 18 other projects once current Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times