South Dublin residents take High Court action against 600-plus housing project in Milltown

An Bord Pleanála approved the 636-apartment scheme following a previous court challenge to 661-home, mainly ‘build to rent’ plan

The High Court is for the second time being asked to quash permission for hundreds of homes on former Jesuit Order lands in Milltown, south Dublin.

An Bord Pleanála approved the 636-apartment scheme last January in a decision upholding earlier permission granted by Dublin City Council under the Large-Scale Residential Development process.

Developer Sandford Living, a subsidiary of real estate investment firm Ardstone, lodged its second planning application for the site in mid-2023, months after An Bord Pleanála conceded in a High Court challenge to its previous permission for 661 homes that were mainly “build to rent”.

Ardstone’s fresh approval for the former Jesuit lands at Milltown Park, close to Gonzaga College, is for a mix of “build to sell” studios, apartments and duplexes over seven blocks of two to 10 storeys.


The €300 million plan, which includes a creche and outdoor play area, involves demolishing the 18th Century Milltown Park House and several other buildings, while Tabor House and a chapel is to be refurbished for cultural community space.

On Monday, Ms Justice Emily Farrell gave leave for An Bord Pleanála’s decision to be judicially reviewed by the High Court.

The application was made to her ex parte (only one side was represented) by Stephen Dodd SC, instructed by FP Logue solicitors, for applicants Norwood Park Residents Association, and Cherryfield Avenue Residents Association and its chairperson Dermot Murphy, of Cherryfield Avenue Upper.

They allege the project materially contravenes density provisions in the Dublin City Development Plan, and, by reaching a different conclusion, that the planning authority legally erred. They say the proposed development has a density 25 per cent higher than the local plan identifies for outer suburbs, but the inspector concluded it would not contradict density standards.

The local residents claim the board also erred in interpreting and applying guidelines governing public transport capacity. They note that the board’s inspector identified that the Cowper and Milltown Luas stops were within walking distance. However, neither the developer nor the board assessed whether local public transport “actually has capacity” for current demand or how “very significant” other building projects on these transport routes that have secured planning permission will affect local transport, the applicants allege.

There were also failings in the board’s consideration of the scheme’s impact on the environment, particularly regarding bat fauna, the applicants say. They note the proposal to remove 283 trees, which the developer intends to replace with 196 “large shrubs/multi-stem trees”. This, “remarkably and unusually”, would see a net loss of trees and, “most strikingly”, a net loss of high-quality trees, the applicants claim.

The case has been adjourned.

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Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter