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Development classified as strategic housing meaning developer can bypass local housing authority 
A local resident has secured leave from the High Court to challenge permission for a substantial housing development in Howth, north Co Dublin. 
The judicial review proceedings by Christian Morris are aimed at overturning An Bord Pleanála’s grant of permission last March to Crekav Trading for the development at the former Baily Court Hotel, Main Street, Howth, and on adjoining lands south of the Martello Tower on Balscadden Road. 
The proposed development is for 177 residential units in three apartment blocks and one mews building, ranging in height from five to seven storeys. The Board permitted construction of 171 apartments and six duplexes, comprising 44 one-bedroom units, 103 two-bed units and 30 three-bedroom units. 
The development has been classified as a strategic housing development, meaning a developer bypasses the local housing authority to seek permission directly from the board. 
In a judgment on Monday, Mr Justice Denis McDonald found Mr Morris, representing himself, had raised a number of substantial grounds entitling him to judicial review. 
Those grounds included whether the Board and its inspector adequately addressed concerns about the risk of subsidence and landslide on the site and the health and environmental implications of the associated excavations. 
The judge said Mr Morris’ case in that regard was supported by observations submitted to the Board from the local community council and residents association, including that there is already land slippage in the area and that the proposed development involves removal of some 78,000 cubic metres of sand and gravel, which may lead to more extensive and severe slippage in the future. 
While he was concerned about the “broad-brush” way Mr Morris had pleaded this issue, the court would grant leave on the basis the relevant grounds should be read in conjunction with submissions of the council and residents association on the subsidence/landslide risk. 
Mr Morris could also challenge the decision on grounds whether the Board adequately addressed coastal erosion issues raised by the residents association, he said. The association had argued, because the development site is 28 metres from the cliff face above Balscadden Bay, permission would be contrary to objectives to limit coastal erosion set out in Fingal County Council’s development plan. 
Mr Morris could also challenge the development on grounds it is not consistent with the zoning of the site under the Fingal County Council development plan, the judge said. 
He granted leave to challenge a condition imposed by the Board that a proposed widening of the footpath along Balscaddden Road should be omitted from the development. 
The Board has said the widening should be omitted “to protect pedestrians and safeguard the structural integrity of the road” but Mr Morris argued that did “not make sense” . 
Mr Morris was entitled to challenge the permission on that ground also, the judge said. While the court was not suggesting the Board would not be able to justify the condition and the reason for it, it was “difficult to see” how not widening the footpath can be said to protect pedestrians. 
The judge also granted leave to Mr Morris to seek costs orders and to challenge the permission over the Board’s failure to list him among those who submitted observations on the proposed development. 
Having dismissed various other grounds advanced, the judge made directions for exchange of legal documents and returned the matter to late June for further directions. 
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