Ailesbury Road residents challenge handling of housing plan for former RTÉ lands 

Three Ailesbury Road residents have brought a legal challenge over An Bord Pleanála’s handling of an application for permission for 614 homes on former RTÉ lands close to their homes. The board has agreed to consider the planning application for permission under the Strategic Housing Act but has not yet decided it. 
The residents’ High Court case includes claims that certain provisions of the Act, enacted with a view to fast-track planning applications for large-scale housing developments, breach their rights under the Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights. 
 
Mr Justice Denis McDonald granted leave on Thursday to the residents – Chris Comerford, Pat Desmond and John Gleeson – to challenge the board’s decision to deal, under the Act, with the application by Cairn Homes Properties Ltd. He returned the judicial review case, and related proceedings by the applicants, to late August for further directions. 
 
The Strategic Housing Act allows developers seeking permission for developments exceeding 100 units to apply directly to the board for permission, bypassing the local housing authority. 
 
RTÉ campus 
In their action, the residents say that, immediately adjoining the rear wall of Ms Desmond’s family home, and located “extremely close” to the family homes of the other two, is a property which previously formed part of the RTÉ campus on which Cairn Homes wants to develop 614 residential units. 
 
That comprises 611 apartments in nine blocks up to 10 storeys high, three townhouses, two cafes, one childcare facility and the change of use of an existing Regency villa to a private members club and gym. The applicants are concerned the proposed development is of a scale and density far in excess of what is permitted under the Dublin City Development Plan, would overlook and overshadow their homes and be “totally out of keeping” with an area consisting of low rise Victorian or Edwardian type houses. 
 
The development would impact not just on the applicants’ properties, which include protected structures, but on other protected structures and important public buildings in the area, including Montrose House, Mount Errol House and a 1960s Scott Tallon Walker-designed building, they claim. 
 
Their case is against the board, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and the Attorney General, with Dublin City Council and Cairn Homes as notice parties. 
 
On Thursday, Michael O’Donnell, for the applicants, said the board has significant obligations when considering whether a planning application should be considered under the Strategic Housing Act. This was not a “rubber stamping” exercise. In deciding to deal with the application by Cairn Homes under the Act, the board failed to consider relevant matters and considered irrelevant ones, he argued. 
 
The board was obliged to consider whether the proposed development exceeds 100 housing units and does not exceed 4,500sq m of commercial space but there was no analysis of those issues, he said. There was no calculation of commercial space or of the relationship of the housing units one to another. 
 
An applicant developer under the Act must also be the owner of the relevant lands or have written consent of the owner, he said. In this case, the applicant was sworn not to be the owner and did not have written consent of the “critical entity”. The failure of the board to consider this issue has “fatal consequences” for the validity of this application under the Act, he said. 
 
The applicants also argue the board is required to suspend or reject the SHA application pending adoption of a masterplan, in line with European law, for part of the overall lands zoned Z12. 
 
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