Community council in court bid to overturn permission for 1,300 homes in Donabate

Group claims scheme involves ‘significant over-development’ of site in north Co Dublin

A local community group has initiated a legal challenge aimed at overturning planning permission for a development of more than 1,300 residential units in Donabate, Co Dublin.

Portrane Donabate Community Council is seeking judicial review of the permission granted by An Bord Pleanála to Aledo Donabate Ltd for the strategic housing development of 1,356 housing units, including about 1,000 apartments, at Corballis East. The proposed development also includes a local retail centre, three creches, a reserved site for a new Gaelscoil and a 35-acre nature park.

Among various claims, the community council contends the proposed development represents significant over-development of the site, with serious environmental and planning implications for the surrounding area. It says it is not opposed to “responsible development” of the site once that is carried out in an “environmentally-responsible” manner.

The grounds of challenge include that the permission is invalid in that the board acted outside its powers in seeking and accepting further information and revised plans from the developer and granted permission on foot of those.


It is claimed most of the proposed residential units would not be in two-storey blocks in material contravention of the area development plan. The planning application proposed nine apartment blocks of five storeys, five apartment blocks of four storeys, a sheltered apartment block of three storeys and a significant number of three-storey houses and three- and four-storey duplex units.

Other claims include that the board’s decision justifying material contraventions of the development plan in relation to the application contained legal errors, including in relation to how it considered permitted housing densities and the anticipated 10 per cent growth rate of Donabate.

Other grounds of challenge include that the proposed development is not sufficiently set back from the Dublin-Belfast railway line, and that existing rail and other public transport services are already over-subscribed and will be inadequate to demand.

The board, it is further claimed, erred in law in screening out significant impact of the development on birds, including Light-Bellied Brent Geese, and of anthropogenic disturbance on the Malahide and Rogerstown estuaries in breach of the Habitats Directive.

A board inspector initially recommended that permission be refused on the basis of the visual impact of the development and that it would adversely interact with the Dublin-Belfast railway line. On foot of her report, the board directed an oral hearing for “further elaboration” of those issues. Additional information was provided on foot of which the inspector issued a second report recommending that permission be granted with conditions. Fingal County Council continued to recommend that permission be refused but last November the board granted permission subject to 29 conditions.

The legal proceedings, against An Bord Pleanála and the State, were lodged in recent days, and the application for leave to seek judicial review will be made before the High Court next week. The proceedings also include an application for a stay on works until the case is decided.

Aledo, a notice party to the proceedings, previously said Donabate is categorised as a growth town served by a rail network and that national planning policy dictated the density and housing mix of the development. It indicated that the withdrawal of the strategic housing development planning system – under which developers could bypass local authorities and seek permission directly from An Bord Pleanála – provided an opportunity to seek permission from Fingal County Council to reduce the number of apartments by up to 500 and replace them with some 200 housing units, reducing the overall development by 300 units.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times