Homeless shelter must close by May unless planning status regularised

Carman’s Hall used as emergency temporary accommodation for rough sleepers

Agreement reached between Dublin City Council and local residents to allow hostel to stay open until May. Photograph: Getty Images

Agreement reached between Dublin City Council and local residents to allow hostel to stay open until May. Photograph: Getty Images



A Dublin City centre based hostel used as accommodation for homeless people will close next May unless its planning status is regularised.

In October, Mr Justice Donald Binchy held a decision by Dublin City Council to allow Carman’s Hall, Francis Street, in Dublin’s Liberties be used and converted into a hostel was in material contravention of the area’s local development plan.

The matter returned before the High Court on Friday for final orders in the case, when the Judge was told the parties had reached an agreement.

It had been agreed the facility can remain open until May 1st, 2018 unless the council takes steps to ensure the facility complies with the planning laws and does not conflict with the local development plan.

The facility opened before Christmas 2016 and has been used as emergency temporary accommodation for rough sleepers.

It has a capacity of 51 beds and has been run by the Simon Community and the Salvation Army.

Local residents, through the Carman’s Hall Community Interest Group, Michael Mallin House Resident’s Association and community worker Elizabeth O’Connor, brought High Court proceedings claiming the council was not entitled to convert the building into a hostel for the homeless.

They alleged the council’s decision of October 28th, 2016 authorising change of use and refurbishment of the building was unlawful, breached the planning laws and should be quashed.

The residents want the building, owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, to be used as a community centre. It had been used as a community centre for many years before it was closed in 2013 over accessibility and fire safety concerns.

The council, opposing the application, argued the hostel was opened to deal with the “humanitarian crisis” of rough sleepers in Dublin.

On Friday Declan McGrath SC, appearing with Niall Handy BL for the residents, said following discussions the parties had agreed the wording of the final orders in the case.

It had been agreed the court could make an order formally quashing the council’s decision of October 28th last year.

The court could also make a declaration that the council’s decision amounted to a material contravention of the local development plan.

A stay on the orders, requiring the shelter to close, had also been agreed until May, counsel added.

James Connolly, appearing with Stephen Dodd BL for the council, said his client was consenting to the orders.

Mr Justice Binchy welcomed the agreement.

He commended the residents for agreeing to allow the facility remain open “especially at this time of year”.

The Judge awarded the residents their costs of their proceedings against the council, which took three days to hear.

However he ruled both sides should pay their own legal costs for a pre-trial application where the council was successful in lifting a stay that allowed the facility open to rough sleepers in December 2016.

In his judgment, the Judge held the council’s decision was in material contravention with objectives as set out in the local development plan for the south inner city.

Proper consideration, he said, was not given to claims that the hostel would result in an over concentration of such facilities for the homeless in the area and the effects that would have on the local economy and community.

In the circumstances the court was satisfied to quash the orders made by the council in respect of the building.