Five challenges to Meath development plan to be heard by commercial court
Posted on 24th January 2022 at 21:33
Cases will be heard by court dealing with commercial planning and strategic infrastructure matters
Three more challenges to the Meath County Development Plan have been admitted to the High Court’s fast-track commercial division.
It brings to five the number of challenges to the plan which was adopted by the council last September.
Two of the three latest challenges are by commercial companies and the third is by an environmental group.
On Monday, Mr Justice Denis McDonald admitted all three cases to the Commercial Court and transferred them to the court dealing with commercial planning and strategic infrastructure development matters. The application was made by Jarlath Fitzsimons SC, on behalf of the council, and on consent with all three plaintiffs.
In the first challenge, Dolent Properties LLP, Laurel Walk, Bandon, Co Cork, which develops properties including nursing homes, seeks to quash a decision to rezone land it owns at Hunters Lane, Dunreagh, Ashbourne, Co Meath.
The previous zoning of the land permitted community, social and educational facilities whereas the new zoning provides for improving open spaces for active and passive recreational amenities.
Dolent says the decision is invalid on grounds including that the council acted irrationally by putting a zoning objective of improving open spaces on privately owned land when there is no basis in law for this.
It also claims there was a failure by the council to have any or adequate regard to submissions it made in relation to Dolent’s position regarding actual flood risk on the land.
The rezoning, which Dolent says would not permit a nursing home, fails to comply with ministerial planning guidelines relating to flood risk, it says.
The second challenge is by Hickwell Ltd and Hickcastle Ltd, with registered addresses at Bracetown, Business Park, Clonee, and who own and operate The Hub Logistics Park, off the Kilbride Road in Clonee next to the affected lands.
Hickwell/Hickcastle say future development has been affected by the council’s decision to provide for a road which cuts across these lands at Bracetown/Gunnocks and in circumstances where development has already been partly implemented.
The companies want the court to quash the decision to rezone the land for the road as well as declarations the decision was a breach of its constitutional property rights.
The third challenge is by Protect East Meath Ltd, a non-profit environmental organisation, which says a change to a previous residential zoning of land in the southern environs of Drogheda, part of which is Co Meath, should be quashed.
The change, says Protect East Meath, was not consistent with the regional spatial strategy which requires a land prioritisation or a de-zoning to address excess zoned lands during the life of the development plan.
It is also claimed, among other things, the decision was invalid because of a failure to act consistent with the National Planning Framework.
One of the two other challenges previously admitted to the commercial list is by Killegland Estates over the council’s decision to dezone a small area of land it owns in Ashbourne from new residential to community infrastructure.
The fifth challenge was by McGarrell Reilly Homes and Alcove Eight Ltd to the change of zoning of lands at Kilcock and Stamullen.
In its applications seeking admission of the cases to the commercial list, the council said all five sets of proceedings raised many similar grounds.
There was a need for them to be dealt with collectively for reasons including that if different decisions were made on the individual challenges, it would give rise to considerable uncertainty when it comes to implementing the policies and objectives of the development plan, it says.
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