A residents’ group, Clonres CLG, has secured leave from the High Court to challenge An Bord Pleanála’s permission for a controversial development of 657 apartments near St Anne’s Park in north Dublin.
The board indicated earlier this week, in relation to a separate challenge by John Conway and Louth Environment Group to the same permission, it is prepared to concede that case, meaning the disputed permission is expected to be overturned. Because the board has not yet formally done so and the parties in the Conway case are in discussions on the form of order to be made, the application by Clonres CLG to bring the latest challenge proceeded before Mr Justice Denis McDonald on Friday.
Having read the grounding documents and heard submissions from Alan Doyle BL, for Clonres, the judge found Clonres had made out the necessary substantial grounds for leave to bring the case against the board. He admitted the proceedings to the court’s Strategic Infrastructure Development list, which fast-tracks planning cases, and returned it to June 11th.
The Clonres case is also against the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage and the State but, arising from the board’s indication the permission will be overturned, the judge adjourned the proceedings against the State.
The claims against the State relate to failure to designate the development site as a Special Protection Area under the Birds Directive. When Mr Doyle said he was not at this stage seeking a stay on the development, the judge said he suspected, given what had happened in the Conway case, a stay application would not be necessary but Clonres had liberty to apply in that regard.
The judge noted discussions are continuing between the sides in the Conway/LEG case as to the form of order to be made in light of the board’s concession in that case.
He said the developer may seek to resist such an order and, in those circumstances, it was necessary for Clonres to proceed with its leave application.
The Clonres case concerns the board’s decision last February to grant permission for more than 650 apartments, in blocks up to nine storeys tall, to be built on former playing fields east of St Paul’s College. The proposed development by Crekav, part of developer Pat Crean’s Marlet Property Group, has been strongly opposed within the local community and by Dublin City Council.
In moving Clonres’ application for leave to challenge the permission, Mr Doyle outlined the grounds of challenge include the board allegedly failed to properly consider and take into account the requirements of the Birds and Habitats Directives including to maintain the habitats of wild birds and protected species.
Counsel said, after an initial permission of the board for the development was struck down, the developer had “taken matters into its own hands” and stopped cutting the grass on the playing fields which had the effect of displacing Brent Geese and other wild birds which used the playing fields as feeding grounds. There was particular failure to consider the impact on the Brent Geese of the loss of those grounds, counsel argued. Other species likely to be adversely affected included the curlew, the black-tailed godwit, oystercatcher and bats. Other grounds of challenge include alleged failures by the board in relation to environmental impact assessments and to take into account the impact of the development on the North Bull island SPA.
Clonres further argues the proposed development involves a material contravention of the Dublin city development plan in relation to the height of the apartments, the loss of the playing pitches and the objectives of protecting the Dublin Bay biosphere, biodiversity conservation and green spaces. Issues with sewage discharges are also raised. A separate case by Clonres aimed at having the site designated as part of the North Bull Island SPA has yet to be decided.