Case over Harold’s Cross apartment development to be fast-tracked

Developer concerned a challenge over part of 220 unit site could delay entire project, court told

 

A developer is concerned that a legal challenge over part of a planned 220 unit housing development in Harold’s Cross, Dublin could delay the entire project, the Commercial Court has heard.

The judicial review challenge, initiated in the High Court last month by a local couple, concerns a November 2018 permission by An Bord Pleanála for demolition of existing structures at 115, 117 and 119 Harolds’s Cross, construction of two apartment blocks with a total of 23 units fronting Harolds Cross Road, plus 160 car and 226 bicyle parking spaces at basement level.

That development is part of a larger development of 220 residential units on the site of the former St Clare’s convent in Harold’s Cross for which Kavcre St Clare’s Ltd, of Townsend Street, Dublin 2, has secured planning permission.

Kavcre, which bought the 1.7 hectare St Clare’s site in early 2015, says the judicial review proceedings by Paul Walsh, a recruitment consultant, and his wife Christine Kirwan, a primary school teacher, of Leinster Park, Harold’s Cross, are affecting the “deliverability” of both the disputed development and the wider development.

It is claimed about 250 jobs will be provided over the construction phase of the wider development which will deliver 220 residential units “consistent with the stated Government objective “of providing much needed new homes”.

Kavcre has spent about €11m to date on acquiring the St Clare’s site and on planning fees, representing a “very significant” financial investment for which there has been no commercial return as of yet, a solicitor for the company said in court documents.

Brian Murray SC, for Kavcre, applied on Monday to have the judicial review speedily heard in the Commercial Court.

The judicial review is against the Board and Kavcre is a notice party.

The judicial review was brought on grounds including certain conditions, including build to rent conditions, attached to the permission for the disputed development.

Those conditions have since been removed in a further decision by An Bord Pleanala on the basis they were attached in error.

Other grounds of the couple’s challenge include the Board’s alleged failure to give reasons for departing from express recommendations of its inspector, including to move an apartment block 10 metres further away from the couple’s home to alleviate overlooking and overshadowing of their home.

On Monday, Niall Handy, for the couple, said he could not exclude the possibility of a discovery application but it was too early to say.

Mr Murray said he could not see how a need for discovery might arise and his side wanted a hearing date.

Having been told the couple and the Board were neutral on the application to enter the proceedings in the Commercial Court, Mr Justice Robert Haughton agreed to admit them and said he will fix a hearing date later.