Castleknock residents seek to overturn ‘fast-track’ permission for apartments 

Leave for judicial review granted over planning decision on Glenveagh development 
 
A number of local residents have brought a High Court challenge aimed at overturning a fast-track permission for a development of 192 apartments in Castleknock in west Dublin. 
Mr Justice Denis McDonald held on Thursday the residents had established the necessary substantial grounds for judicial review of An Bord Pleanála’s permission for the proposed development by Glenveagh Homes Ltd on a 1.77 hectares site at Balroy House, Carpenterstown Road, Castleknock. 
 
The case, by seven residents of Cottonwood, Carpenterstown Road, is against the board, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Ireland and the Attorney General, with Glenveagh and Fingal County Council as notice parties. 
 
The residents claim the apartments, to be constructed in five five-storey blocks, will seriously injure the amenity of their homes and have a negative effect on the environment and local wildlife. 
 
In seeking protective costs orders under Section 50B of the Planning Act 2000 or Sections 3 and 4 of the Environmental (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011, they said they have recently moved into homes built in the last four years, most have large mortgages and they would be unable to fund litigation over a cost of about €10,000. 
 
Alan Doyle BL, for the applicants, said the State and developer, in correspondence with the applicants, accepted Section 50B applied to the case. Because the board had not made a similar formal acceptance, he sought an order against the board to that effect. 
 
Counsel for the board said its concerns were about being asked to agree to a protective costs order before the court had granted leave for judicial review and without knowing, if leave was granted, whether that would be on all or some of the grounds advanced. 
 
Mr Justice McDonald said he was granting leave for judicial review on all the grounds advanced. 
 
Fast-track development 
On the protective costs matter, he said he had sympathy both for the positions of the applicants and the board. His order would record the positions of the State and developer on Section 50B and that a letter from the board of June 5th 2020 had stated, subject to leave being granted on the grounds proposed, Section 50B applied, he said. 
 
The disputed permission was granted last March under the fast-track strategic housing development procedure which allows developers bypass local authorities to seek permission directly from the board. 
 
The residents claim an EIA (Screening) Environmental Report from the developer failed to consider matters in the developer’s ecological impact assessment, including the impact on bats, birds, other wildlife and the potential for discharge of water to the River Liffey through a stream 250 metres to the east. They claim the board erred in law on grounds including it failed to give adequate reasons to show how it concluded the proposed development was not likely to have a significant effect on the environment. 
 
The board, they allege, failed to address the cumulative effect of the proposed development, and previous development in the area since 1992, on the human population, through overshadowing additional traffic, pressure on school and creche capacity and public transport, and on wildlife. 
 
Their case against the Minister and State centres on claims the Minister erred in law in adopting the Sustainable Residential Development in Urban Areas Guidelines for Planning Authorities 2009, the Design Standards for New Apartments Guidelines 2018 and the Sustainable Urban Housing Design Standard for New Apartments Guidelines 2018. 
 
They claim section 28 of the Planning Act 2000 is unconstitutional in that, inter alia, it allows the Minister to establish policies in the area of proper planning and sustainable development which policies, it is argued, are the preserve of local authorities. Other claims include the Minister failed to comply with Articles 3-9 of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive. 
 
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