Clane community group secures judicial review of 333-home plan

Strategic housing permission erred on overdevelopment, Clane Community Council claims

A community group has secured High Court permission to challenge a planning approval for a development of 333 homes on a greenfield site on the outskirts of Clane, Co Kildare.

Mr Justice Richard Humphreys granted leave on Monday to Clane Community Council for a judicial review aimed at overturning the strategic housing permission granted by An Bord Pleanála on April 13th.

On the application of Stephen Dodd SC, instructed by F.P. Logue Solicitors, for the group, the judge granted a stay, subject to liberty to apply, restraining works under the permission.

The group wanted a stay because some 1.6 hectares of woodland was felled in advance of the planning application for the site, known as the KDA1 site, and it is concerned more woodland may be cleared with potential impact on bats and other species, counsel said.


Second challenge

Last week the group secured leave to challenge another board permission, granted in April, for a separate development of 142 homes on a site on the western side of Millicent Road and southern side of Prosperous Road on the outskirts of the town.

In that challenge, it argues, inter alia, the permission granted to Debussy Properties Ltd represents "significant overdevelopment" of the site.

In its second challenge the voluntary group whose members are elected by residents of Clane, has advanced those and other arguments over the proposed 333 unit development.

Its case is against the board, Ireland and the Attorney General, with the developer, Westar Investments Ltd, a notice party.

The core grounds of challenge include claims that the development is in material contravention of the settlement policy and housing allocation relating to Clane in the Kildare county development plan 2017-2023 and Clane Local Area Plan.

The group claims the settlement strategy, as varied to implement national policy contained in the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy for the Eastern and Midlands area, set the housing target for Clane for the remainder of the plan period of 2020-2023 at 145 units.

It claims, inter alia, the board’s justification of the material contravention misinterpreted national policy and the development plan.

The development, which includes five blocks of mainly two storey apartments four storeys high, is also in material contravention of the Clane local plan in relation to building height, it claims.


The board, the group contends, erred in its interpretation and application of urban building heights guidelines of 2018 which, it is claimed, have no application to a greenfield edge of town site. The proposed development contravenes the zoning requirement of that part of the site which is zoned strategic open space, it is further argued.

It is also claimed the permission breached obligations under EU law on various grounds.

There was, it is claimed, a single “inadequate” bat survey with the effect the board had not complied with its obligations under the Habitats Directive to take measures to ensure strict protection of bats and biodiversity.

Other claims include that certain provisions of the strategic housing act – the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 – are invalid under EU law because the report of the planning authority’s chief executive is not made available until after time for public submissions has expired. This, it is claimed, breaches public participation requirements in the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive.

The permission is also invalid under EU law and breaches fair procedures due to the absence of public participation in the strategic housing developments’ pre-consultation procedure provided for in the 2016 Act, it is argued.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times