Environmental group wins leave to challenge Trim planning permission

Development of 320 units was approved last October

The development was designated a strategic housing project, which allows a developer to apply directly to An Bord Pleanála for planning approval. Photograph: iStock

The development was designated a strategic housing project, which allows a developer to apply directly to An Bord Pleanála for planning approval. Photograph: iStock

 

An environmental group has obtained leave to bring a legal challenge aimed at overturning planning permission for a development of 320 residential units in Trim, Co Meath.

Having admitted the action by Eco Advocacy to the High Court’s strategic infrastructure list on Thursday, Mr Justice Richard Humphreys fixed a hearing date in late February.

An early hearing date had been sought by Ross Aylward BL, for Keegan Land Holdings Ltd (KLH), which secured permission from An Bord Pleanála last October for the development at Charterschool Land, Manorlands, Trim.

Mr Aylward said his side believed it had “dotted all the Is and crossed all the Ts” in its planning application and wanted the challenge determined as speedily as possible.

Oisin Collins, for the applicant, an environmental NGO based in Enfield, said the case centred on a net point and he was satisfied to have it heard next month.

The board granted permission on October 27th last for the development, having designated it a strategic housing one, meaning a developer can apply directly to the board for planning approval rather than via the normal planning process.

In its action, Eco Advocacy says it has been involved in environmental matters for a number of years and has been concerned for some years about the manner in which KLH operated a quarry.

It says it is concerned about provisions of the 2016 Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act under which the public are excluded from the pre-planning consultation leading to developments being designated strategic housing developments.

The group said its concerns about the proposed housing development by KLH in Trim included about its size, scale and height and its effect on the cultural and architectural heritage of Trim and on the environment.

The group claims none of the matters that it or others had raised during the planning process were properly considered by the board. This, it claims, is contrary to requirements stipulated by the Supreme Court in a judgment entitled Balz v An Bord Pleanála.

Concerns

Concerns raised by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, An Taisce and Meath County Council were not properly addressed by the board, it is claimed.

A report by a bord inspector recommending approval of the development contained “perfunctory” and “uninformative” conclusions on issues including density and urban design, it claims.

The report set out no basis for the inspector’s conclusion the development would have no significant impact on Mornington House, a protected structure, it is claimed. There was “scant, if any” consideration of issues raise din the context of cultural heritage, archeology, ecology and biodiversity, it is further alleged.

The board, in granting permission, set out matters which it had “regard to” but had not set out reasons or considerations for its decision to grant permission, the group claims. This was contrary to national, international and EU law.

Other claims include that no, or no appropriate, screening was carried out for an Appropriate Assessment, as required by EU and national law. The board’s decision the proposed development was not likely to have significant effects on the environment was “wholly inadequate”, the group also alleges.