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Prolific apartment builder offered Castleknock resident €100,000 to drop case against Dublin co-living development

Developer said it would turn former Brady’s pub into social housing if resident did not withdraw judicial review

Bord Pleanála twice granted Bartra permission for co-living on the Brady’s site, with both decisions challenged by local residents under the judicial review process

One of the State’s most prolific apartment builders offered a Castleknock resident €100,000 to drop judicial review proceedings against a 210-bed co-living scheme on the site of a former Brady’s pub. Richard Barrett’s Bartra made the cash offer in a letter to Barry O’Lone, whose family home is opposite the pub on the old Navan Road, seeking the withdrawal of his challenge to An Bord Pleanála’s permission for the shared apartment scheme.

If Mr O’Lone did not agree to accept the offer within four weeks Bartra would instead lodge an application for social housing on the site, the letter said.

Mr O’Lone did not accept the offer, and in recent weeks the High Court issued orders quashing the board’s decision to permit the co-living scheme.

Local Labour councillor John Walsh, who has been working with residents opposing the scheme, commended them for their “honourable” actions in rejecting “the ‘carrot and stick’ approach employed by the developer”.


It emerged last week that the Government plans to introduce new planning laws to make the payment of so-called “go away” money for withdrawing appeals against property developments illegal.

The Brady’s co-living scheme was among the last approved by the board in advance of the Government ban on co-living, where shared kitchen and living facilities serve multiple en suite rooms, in 2020.

The board twice granted Bartra permission for co-living on the Brady’s site, with both decisions challenged by local residents under the judicial review process.

In the first case the board granted permission in January 2020, and just five months later conceded the court challenge on the grounds it had “failed to give adequate reasons for its decision and in particular failed to give adequate reasons for disagreeing with the recommendation” of its inspector to refuse the development.

Two months later in August 2020 Bartra resubmitted a co-living application, which was again approved by the board in early December 2020. Later that month the ban on new co-living schemes came into force.

Mr O’Lone immediately initiated a fresh judicial review case, which opened in the High Court in February 2021. More than two years later in June 2023 the board wrote to Mr O’Lone stating it was no longer opposing his challenge “as the board accepts that in the circumstances of this case a reasonable apprehension of objective bias may arise”.

Just two months before this letter Bartra chief executive Mike Flannery wrote to Mr O’Lone offering “cash compensation” of €100,000 in exchange for dropping the case. If he did not accept Bartra would “lodge a new application for a social housing development”, the letter said.

It was not until last month that the High Court issued the order remitting the case to the board to make a fresh decision on the application. However, as co-living schemes are no longer permitted under planning legislation the board is not now in position to grant permission.

Three days before the High Court order was issued, Bartra applied to Fingal County Council for 56 one- and two-bed apartments on the Brady’s site. However, it was not stated in the application, filed on May 10th last, if these homes would be exclusively for social housing.

A company prominent in the build-to-rent apartment sector, Bartra is one of the only developers to have built any co-living schemes under the short-lived system introduced by former housing minister Eoghan Murphy in 2018.

The company did not respond to queries on Tuesday.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times