The potential for judicial reviews of a number of An Bord Pleanála’s decisions relating to strategic housing developments in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown is to be examined by law agents for the county council.
The move comes after attempts by councillors to secure backing of the authority for a judicial review of a decision by the board to approve a 102-apartment development on St Michael's Hospital car park, at Crofton Road in Dún Laoghaire.
Speaking at Monday night's council meeting, Cllr Melisa Halpin successfully proposed a suspension of standing orders to allow councillors to voice their opposition to the St Michael's build-to let development.
Envisaged is the demolition of a two-storey house and the development of two blocks of apartments, the first rising to 13 storeys above ground floor and including 57 apartments. The second rises to nine storeys and is to include 45 apartments.
Cllr Halpin said council staff had opposed the buildings as they would tower over the town’s spires and public buildings. Ms Halpin said the hierarchy of many county development plans was that buildings would decline in height from the mountains to the coast.
She asked for councillors’ support for a motion calling for the council officials to examine the possibility of taking a judicial review regarding Bord Pleanála’s decision to approve the strategic housing development, not least because it was contrary to the County Development Plan.
She was supported by Cllr Lorraine Hall, who described the proposed development as "a complete monstrosity in Dún Laoghaire".
Cllr Denis O'Callaghan said while he was supporting the motion, there were other large, strategic housing developments in the council's administrative area, and he believed one in Carrickmines might make a better case over which to seek a judicial review.
This was followed by an amendment by Cllrs Jim O'Leary and Barry Saul to include the St Michael's Car Park development alongside a development on Vector Motors in Goatstown, another at Marmalade Lane in Ballinteer, a further development at Golf Lane in Glenamuck as well as others which the authority may determine constitute a "serious breach of the County Development Plan 2016 - 2022" .
But Dún Laoghaire Rathdown deputy chief executive Tom McHugh told the councillors that Bord Pleanála, as an independent appeals board, was not bound by the County Development Plan. He said the board was obliged to “have regard” to it, but was not bound by it. A judicial review could only be taken, he said, on a specific point of law.
He said initiating a judicial review exposed the council to significant legal costs and given the number of strategic housing developments mentioned by councillors, that would be onerous.
After considering Mr McHugh’s advice, the councillors agreed to ask the authority’s officials to examine the legalities around the strategic housing developments approved by the board, and to ascertain whether there were grounds for judicial reviews.