Fresh permission for 657 apartments near St Anne’s Park is challenged in court

Environmental group takes case againt permission for development in Raheny


An environmental group wants the High Court to overturn An Bord Pleanála’s fresh grant of permission for a controversial development of 657 apartments on lands near St Anne’s Park in Raheny, Dublin.

On Thursday, Mr Justice Richard Humphreys granted leave to Stephen Dodd SC, for John Conway, an environmentalist from Dunddalk, Co Louth, and the Louth Environment Group (LEG), to bring the challenge over the permission decision of August 20th last.

The action will return to the court in two weeks for further case management in the Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID) list. That list fast tracks cases involving developments designated as SID, allowing developers to bypass the normal planning route to seek permission directly from An Bord Pleanála .

The proposed development on former lands of St Paul’s College, Sybil Hill Road, Raheny, is by Crekav Trading GP Ltd, part of Pat Crean’s Marlet group.

Crekav sought planning permission under the 2016 Planning and Development (Housing and Residential Tenancies) Act 2016, the fast track process for strategic housing developments.

The Board previously in 2018 granted permission for the development but that decision was challenged, in three separate sets of proceedings by Clonres CLG, a local residents group; environmentalist Peter Sweetman; and Mr Conway and LEG.

The Board ultimately conceded those proceedings after accepting there was an error in how it recorded the test applied by it in carrying out an appropriate assessment under the EC Habitats Directive.

Last June, the Board consented to an order quashing its permission for 657 apartments on the St Paul’s lands.

That consent order was made on the basis the Board had not adequately addressed requirements of the Habitats Directive in relation to an appropriate assessment of the impact of the development on feeding grounds of the light-bellied brent goose and other protected bird species in Dublin Bay.

The matter was sent back to the Board to be determined “in accordance with law” from the time the Board received a report in December 2019 from the chief executive of Dublin City Council , recommending permission be refused for reasons including a natura impact statement from the developer had not demonstrated the development would not impact on the populations of protected brent goose, the black-tailed godwit or curlew of Dublin Bay.

Last August, the board granted permission, subject to 30 conditions, and that decision is now subject to the latest challenge by Mr Conway and LEG.

The Board considered, inter alia, subject to compliance with the conditions, the proposed development would constitute an “acceptable residential density” in the location and would be acceptable in terms of urban design, height and quantum of development. It considered a permission that could materially contravene the maximum building height set out in the Dublin City Development Plan 2016-2022 would be justified in accordance with planning policy in favour of greater density and height at “central accessible locations”.

Among the grounds of challenge, it is claimed the Board erred in law and acted contrary to the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 and in not applying aspects of guidelines issued to local authorities in late 2018 by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government concerning urban development and building heights.

Other claims include the permission amounts to an unlawful material contravention of the city development plan in relation to zoning of the lands.

The Board erred in law and acted contrary to the requirements of the EC Habitats, Birds and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) directives, the applicants further allege. The Board, inter alia, failed to carry out an updated appropriate assessment on the impact of the development on protected species including the brent goose and lacked ecological expertise to carry out a valid EIA, they claim.