Blackrock housing go-ahead reversed over missing bat report

Permission obtained by Cairn Homes for over 220 homes quashed by High Court

Cross Avenue on which Chesterfield House is located. Photograph: Google Street View

Cross Avenue on which Chesterfield House is located. Photograph: Google Street View

 

A “fatal” error that meant a developer failed to publish online a report about bats has resulted in a judge quashing planning permission for more than 220 homes in Blackrock, Co Dublin.

Southwood Park Residents Association took judicial review proceedings against An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant Cairn Homes permission for 214 apartments and seven houses on the grounds of Chesterfield House, a protected structure on Cross Avenue.

Mr Justice Garrett Simons, on the second day of proceedings, quashed the board’s decision because a document on the potential impact of the development on bat species had not been posted online.

The residents, whose estate backs on to the Chesterfield site, had claimed the board had erred in its decision and failed to meet requirements under EU environmental impact and habitat directives.

Their claim had not related to the missing bat document. The judge noted in his ruling that “none of the parties were seemingly aware of this omission” until after review proceedings had started.

However, he said the breach was not “trivial, technical or insubstantial” and was “fatal to the validity of the planning permission”.

At least four species of bats were recorded “feeding and commuting” in the area, according to the bat survey.

‘Death by 1,000 cuts’

Irish Wildlife Trust conservation officer Kieran Flood said such surveys are important. “We can’t allow unchecked development, every small loss of habitat represents a death by 1,000 cuts.”

Cairn Homes said the failure to upload the document was due to “human error” and it would resubmit a planning application for the development.

The case was the second judicial review ruling in relation to the State’s new fast-track planning system where large-scale housing applications are determined directly by the board rather than local authorities.

Last year, the High Court ruled the board should reassess an application it had granted for 500 homes on playing pitches beside St Anne’s Park in Raheny. It subsequently refused permission for the development on the St Paul’s College site. Crekav Trading last month submitted a new application for the site.