Legal challenge brought over council’s refusal to extend permission for housing it has agreed to buy
Posted on 19th July 2022 at 22:38
Court hears agreements are in place for about 85 of the houses to be acquired by Galway County Council
A High Court challenge has been brought over Galway County Council’s refusal to extend the life of planning permissions for a scheme of houses that the local authority has agreed to buy some of.
The action is being pursued by Newmar Global Properties, which is developing 120 houses, 11 apartments and a creche at Tubber Road, Gort.
Newmar claims it has not been given a substantial reason by the council for its decisions to turn down its applications to extend the development’s planning permission. It also claims the decisions under challenge offend natural justice and logic. The developer further claims it has not been treated fairly and the refusals are absurd.
The court heard that the scheme is in the latter stages of completion and agreements are in place for about 85 of the houses to be acquired by the council’s housing department, which urgently requires the units.
The court heard the developer was concerned late last year that, due to delays in the construction caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the planning permission would expire before all the houses were completed. The developer applied to the council to have the lifetime of the planning permission extended.
Newmar, at its own expense, also submitted to the planning authority an appropriate assessment confirming the extension would not have any adverse impact on local sites of environmental importance.
The developer claims its applications for an extension were refused in decisions issued by the council earlier this year. The grounds for the refusals cited include that there was a failure by the developer to comply with a four-week deadline to lodge further planning information sought by the local authority.
Other grounds given by the local authority include that there was an alleged failure by the developer to make the application within the allowed time limit.
In its judicial review proceedings against the council, the developer argues the decisions are flawed and should be set aside. Newmar claims the council’s request for further information was for something that had never been relied on when the initial request for further information was raised by the local authority.
Despite being advised that an appropriate assessment was not necessary given the existence of an environmental impact statement, which was filed with the council some time ago, it had carried one out and filed it as part of its applications for extensions. That assessment appeared to have been ignored, it is claimed.
As a result of the decision, Newmar, represented by Paul McGarry SC and Michael O’Connor BL, has brought judicial review proceedings seeking to quash the council’s refusal to extend the lifetime of the planning permission.
Newmar also seeks an order directing the council to grant the extensions sought. It further seeks a series of declarations including that the council’s decisions are irrational and of no effect, were made outside of the council’s powers and that the council fell into grave error.
The matter came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan who, on an ex-parte basis, granted the applicant permission to bring its challenge. The matter will return before the courts when the new legal terms commences in October.
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