Cork County Council has brought a High Court Challenge over a ministerial direction to remove a variation it had made to its county development plan.
The council’s elected members in January 2020 made variations to the Cork County Development Plan 2014 (CCDP), including regarding retail planning strategy.
The variation was made after the council was satisfied, having considered a detailed report, there is capacity for a major retail outlet centre in the Cork metropolitan area, that would not have an adverse impact on other retail centres in the area and would significantly benefit the life, attractiveness and vitality of the locality.
Last December, the Minister for Local Government and Planning directed the council to remove the variation.
The Minister said the variation meant the CCDP was now inconsistent with national Guidelines on Spatial Planning and failed to set out an overall strategy for proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
The Minister also said the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR), which carries out independent assessment of local authority and regional forward planning, was of the opinion the variation had not been made in a manner consistent with its recommendations and was not consistent with the Minister’s planning guidelines regarding retail planning.
The Council should revert to the terms of its original development plan, the Minister said.
Represented by James Connolly SC and Stephen Dodd SC, the council claims the Minister’s decision is unlawful, flawed, irrational, of no legal effect and was made without jurisdiction.
It is claimed the Minister and OPR, a notice party to the case, misinterpreted the guidelines and took irrelevant considerations into account.
In judicial review proceedings against the Minister and the State, the council wants orders quashing the Minister’s direction of December 23rd last that the council remove the variations made to the CCDP.
It also seeks various declarations including that sections of the 2018 Planning and Development (Amendment) Act are unconstitutional, void and of no legal effect.
On Monday, Mr Justice Charles Meenan granted the ex-parte application for leave to bring the proceedings and returned the matter to next month.