Plan for 275 apartments in Drogheda faces legal challenge

Environmental group claims permission for site next to Scotch Hall centre breaches density guidelines

A local environmental group has taken a legal challenge aimed at overturning a fast-track permission for a development of 275 apartments beside Scotch Hall in Drogheda. Photograph: Tom Honan

A local environmental group has taken a legal challenge aimed at overturning a fast-track permission for a development of 275 apartments beside Scotch Hall in Drogheda. Photograph: Tom Honan

 

A local environmental group has taken a legal challenge aimed at overturning a fast-track permission for a development of 275 apartments in Drogheda, Co Louth.

The case by Protect East Meath Ltd concerns a strategic housing permission granted by An Bord Pleanála on June 29th last, subject to 31 conditions, for the development by Hallscotch Venture Ltd.

The permission is for 275 apartments, a crèche and associated site works on lands adjacent to the Scotch Hall shopping centre at Marsh Road in the town.

When John Kenny, instructed by FP Logue Solicitors, applied to the High Court on Monday for leave to bring the judicial review proceedings against the board and the State, Mr Justice Richard Humphreys said Louth County Council should also be a respondent, rather than a notice party.

The judge adjourned the matter for a week to allow the legal papers be amended to that effect.

In its proceedings, Project East Meath, with an address in Julianstown, Co Meath, said it is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to ensure future development in east Meath only takes place with “strong environmental protection”.

The core grounds of challenge include claims that the decision is invalid because the development materially contravened density standards in the Drogheda Borough Council Development Plan 2011-2017 without identifying and notifying the material contravention to the public.

An Bord Pleanála also failed to notify the public of that contravention, the group claims.

The board is also accused of failing to consider whether such material contravention could be justified under section 37 of the Planning & Development Act 2000, which permits the board to grant permission even where a proposed development materially contravenes a development plan.

The environmental group also claims the developer’s planning report and statement of consistency was “materially inaccurate” in that its conclusion on density was based on a section of the Drogheda development plan that had since been varied.

Other grounds of challenge include claims the board failed, in breach of the Habitats Directive, to apply the correct legal test in respect of bat fauna entitled to strict protection. The information supplied by the developer was inadequate to enable an environmental impact assessment screening, it is also argued.

The claim against the State parties is that they have failed to properly transpose provisions of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive into the Planning and Development Act 2000.

It is claimed the Act allowed for the extension of the Drogheda development plan without any assessment for the purpose of the directive and/or that the plan is no longer valid since it was unlawfully extended in breach of the directive.