Judge dismisses challenge to housing development after residents fail to include names and addresses in appeal

Judge dismisses challenge to housing development after residents fail to include names and addresses in appeal

A failure to include the names and addresses of residents objecting to housing in north Dublin meant their appeal against the development was invalid, the High Court ruled.

Mr Justice Denis McDonald dismissed a challenge by an agent acting on behalf of residents of St Michael's Cottages in Balgriffin to An Bord Pleanála's decision last March to declare invalid an objection to Cairn Homes' plan for 64 house and 32 apartments at Parkside, west of St Michael's.

It was claimed on behalf of the residents the Cairns development appeared to involve an encroachment on a number of St Michael's properties. It was also claimed a proposed entrance road would be seriously detrimental to the development potential of some of the cottages.

Brendan Dalton, who described himself as "a broker advocate" exclusively advocating for the residents on development issues, lodged a submission to the original Cairns application to Dublin City Council in which he raised these concerns. He said the residents were also concerned about the proposed height of the proposed buildings.

In January 2019, the council granted permission.

Mr Dalton submitted an appeal to the board in which he again said the Cairns development did not consider the concerns of the residents. He also said Cairns should have given details of its plan prior to making the application "in order to encompass our client's lands as part of a wider development strategy."

In February 2019, the board sent Mr Dalton a letter saying the appeal had been received and would be considered in accordance with the planning acts.

However, the following month a Bord Pleanála executive officer instructed that another letter be sent to him stating the appeal was invalid because the names and addresses of the appellant residents had not been provided in the appeal documents.

Mr Dalton then brought a High Court challenge claiming there had been substantial compliance with the law in the appeal. He also argued any non-compliance was of "technical or trivial nature and cannot render the appeal invalid."

He also claimed he had been denied fair procedures because he should have been given an opportunity by the board to argue his case before the appeal was declared invalid.

The board opposed his action.

Mr Justice McDonald said the Planning and Development Act 2000 was very clear there was a straightforward requirement to state both the names and addresses of the appellant and any agent acting on their behalf.

The fact that a great deal of the residents may have made submissions at the stage when the plan was being considered by the city council "does not seem to me to make any difference", the judge said.

Since residents' names and addresses were not provided on the appeal documents, there was a failure to comply with statutory requirements, he said.

The judge also found there was no breach of an obligation of fairness. There was no discretion under the planning legislation to allow the board to be swayed by submissions made to it in relation to invalidity.

It was a straightforward legislative provision setting out the requirements for a valid appeal, he said.

"Either an appeal complies with those requirements or it does not."

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