Challenges to housing near St Anne's Park to be fast-tracked

Environmentalists claim site is significant foraging ground for Brent Geese


Several legal challenges over An Bord Pleanála’s grant of planning permission for a development of 500 housing units in north Dublin are to be specially fast-tracked by the High Court.

Crekav Trading, part of developer Marlet, has proposed building 104 houses and 432 apartments on lands currently used by St Paul’s College in Raheny as six playing pitches.

On Thursday, Mr Justice David Barniville granted several parties, who argue the Board’s decision is “fundamentally flawed”, permission to bring challenges against various parties, including the Board and the State. The developers are notice parties. The applicants include Clonres CLG, which represents residents from the Clontarf area; environmental campaigner Peter Sweetman; and John Conway and the Louth Environmental Group.

In what were described as broadly similar applications, the applicants seek various orders including one quashing the grant of permission.

Their claims include the Board failed to undertake an Appropriate Assessment on the conservation of natural habitats of wild flora and fauna and failed to comply with the EU Birds Directive.

The site, it is claimed, is a significant foraging ground for the internationally important population of East Canadian High Arctic Light-bellied Brent Geese and other protected species, the curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Blackheaded Gull and Oystercatcher.

Eamon Galligan SC, for Clonres, said their case is brought under several headings, including that an Appropriate Assessment on the possible adverse effects of the development on the site was not properly carried out.

Oisin Collins BL, for Mr Sweetman, said the Board’s decision is “riddled with flaws” and should be quashed.

Stephen Dodd BL, for Mr Conway and the Louth Environmental Group, said their case is the proposed development involves “a material contravention” of Dublin City Council’s development plan for the area.

The proposed development does not comply with a zoning requirement to have 25 per cent public open space and community facilities, and instead just 18.7 per cent open space has been set aside, he said.

Permission to bring the proceedings was granted on an ex-parte basis (only the applicants represented).

The judge, who put a stay on the permission, has adjourned the matter for two weeks.

The lands at issue were formerly owned by the Vincentian Fathers, trustees of the all-boys secondary school St Paul’s College. Local sports clubs have also used the pitches.

The planning application was made directly by the developer to An Bord Pleanála under a fast-track process for large housing projects which bypasses the local authority.

Mr Justice Barniville is the designated judge to hear challenges against decisions concerning strategic infrastructure developments. The assignment of a judge to deal with such applications is intended to speed up the hearing of such actions.