Residents’ group challenge planned Chapelizod social housing development
Residents claim council has conflict of interest in that it ‘essentially gives itself planning permission’
The site of Springvale allotments opposite the Church of the Nativity where Dublin City Council aims to ‘rapid build’ 71 social housing apartments. Photograph: Tom Honan
A residents’ group has initiated a High Court challenge over Dublin City Council’s plans for a 71-apartment social housing development in Chapelizod. Mr Justice Michael MacGrath granted leave to the Chapelizod Community for Democracy and Sustainability company to bring a judicial review against the council, the Minister for Housing and the State. The group wants to quash a decision last October to approve the development at Springvale, next to the Phoenix Park’s Chapelizod Gate. The leave application was made on Monday on a one-side only represented basis by John Kenny BL, for the residents’ company. The residents claim, among other things, the council has a conflict of interest in that it applies to itself for approval and “essentially gives itself planning permission,” Mr Kenny said.
They claim this breaches an EU environmental impact assessment directive requiring competent authorities to ensure they deal with such matters in an objective manner and don’t find themselves in a conflict of interest situation. They claim the State respondents failed to transpose, adequately or at all, the conflict of interest directive into our laws. They also allege failure by the council’s chief executive to provide responses to issues raised by residents during a public consultation process about the plan. Following a report of the chief executive, the plan was approved by councillors last October without properly determining whether an appropriate assessment (AA) or environmental impact assessment (EIA) was needed, it is claimed. The court heard the Springvale site had for sometime in the past been used as a dump and it is claimed there was no consideration of leachate from toxic materials and its interaction with the nearby River Liffey.
The council was obliged to analyse and assess whether there was a proven link between overcapacity in the Ringsend treatment plant, which will treat effluent from the development, and deleterious effects on the Natura 2000 sites in Dublin Bay, it is claimed. The residents also argue the council failed to address issues concerning significant roosting sites for bats, a protected species, on the land. Breaches of residents’ rights of public participation and fair procedures are also alleged. They further challenge planning regulations governing the power of the Minister to prescribe classes of development which a local authority can process through a procedure known as the “Part 8 process”, which allows a council to deal with its own developments. Alternatively, they challenge the constitutionality of that procedure. The case comes back to court in February.