Court rules Israeli embassy office does not need planning permission

Fifth floor of number 23 Shelbourne Road to be leased from Spectre (Shelbourne) Ltd

The fifth floor of number 23 Shelbourne Road in Ballsbridge is to be leased by the State of Israel from the building owners, Spectre (Shelbourne) Ltd.

The fifth floor of number 23 Shelbourne Road in Ballsbridge is to be leased by the State of Israel from the building owners, Spectre (Shelbourne) Ltd.

 

The High Court has quashed a decision that a change of use of part of a building in Dublin for new offices for the Israeli embassy requires planning permission.

The fifth floor of number 23 Shelbourne Road in Ballsbridge, which is designated in the City Development Plan for “general office” use, is to be leased by the State of Israel from the building owners, Spectre (Shelbourne) Ltd.

As part of the new lease arrangement, Spectre said the Israeli embassy is to surrender an existing lease it has with Spectre for similar facilities just down the road at Carrisbrook House on Pembroke Road.

Spectre asked the High Court to quash An Bord Pleanála’s February 2020 decision that the change of use to an embassy office was a development and therefore not exempt from requiring planning permission.

Mr Justice Michael Quinn found the board erred in law, took into account irrelevant considerations and acted irrationally and unreasonably in its decision.

He ordered the decision be quashed.

The matter arose after concerns were raised with Dublin City Council about safety and security by two of the building’s other tenants as part of the planning process. One of them was Finance Ireland. Spectre also asked for a declaration as to its status under planning legislation.

The council made declarations that the change of use would be exempt development, but Finance Ireland then referred the matter to An Bord Pleanála which decided it was not exempt.

In its challenge, Spectre claimed, among other things, the board erred in law, took into account irrelevant considerations, acted irrationally and/or unreasonably. Dublin City Council and Finance Ireland were notice parties in the case.

Spectre said it has already spent more than €1 million on refurbishment works and is concerned that it could be subject to planning enforcement action.

In his decision, Mr Justice Quinn said the board failed to have regard to the existence of different definitions of land use contained in the City Development Plan 2016 – 2022.

The board also failed to consider the exercising of its discretion under Section 138 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, he said.

This gave it the discretion to dismiss a referral in circumstances where the city council previously determined, and made three declarations, on the same question and where no new planning and/ or factual circumstances existed which would justify a new decision by the board.

He also found the board erred in law in its failure to take into account previous case law.