A local resident has lost his High Court challenge aimed at overturning permission for a development of more than 500 apartments in Howth, Co Dublin.
Christian Morris had challenged An Bord Pleanála’s grant of permission last April for the demolition of existing structures on lands at Howth Road and for construction of 512 apartments, two shops, a café and a restaurant.
The proposed development is on land at the former Techrete manufacturing facility, former Beshoff’s car showroom and former Howth garden centre, Claremont, on Howth Road.
It 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 recently published judgment, Ms Justice Niamh Hyland dismissed all grounds of Mr Morris’ challenge.
The judge, who noted the development was subject to 85 objections to the board, stressed her decision did not concern the merits or desirability of the development.
An Bord Pleanála is the body entrusted with expert assessment of such planning applications and her role was limited to considering whether the board had complied with the law in how it decided to grant permission, she said.
Mr Morris - who represented himself - had not demonstrated any legal error by the board in its decision granting permission to Crekav Trading GP Ltd, the predecessor to Atlas GP Ltd, the notice party to these proceedings, she ruled.
She dismissed various claims advanced by him, including that the proposed development was not consistent with the zoning of the site. He had made out no basis for that claim, she ruled.
Mr Morris also failed to raise an identifiable issue in respect of an alleged failure by the board to have regard to the submissions made by objectors, including over the height – up to eight storeys - and density of the development, she found.
Material before the court showed the board and its inspector engaged extensively with the question of whether a material contravention of the Fingal county development plan was justified in relation to this development, she said. The board had decided a material contravention was justified for reasons including the government’s policy, set out in Rebuilding Ireland, to ramp up delivery of housing from its current under-supply, she noted.
Mr Morris had not identified any legal flaw in the board’s approach, she held.
In other findings, she concluded Mr Morris had not demonstrated that his concerns in relation to an inadequate flood risk assessment by the board were well-founded. Nor was there any basis for his claim the board did not have due regard to the Howth urban centre strategy or the Howth special amenity order, she held.
She did not accept Mr Morris’ claim he was prejudiced from making submissions concerning the development as a result of Fingal County Council having published an incorrect archaeological report. While it seemed a report relating to a different site had appeared in the file concerning the planning application on the Council’s website, she was not satisfied that impacted on his ability to make submissions on the proposed development.
The Council is not required under the 2016 Act relating to strategic housing developments to place its reports in respect of such developments on its website and Mr Morris was able to access the correct archaeological report, she noted.
Having rejected all arguments, she concluded Mr Morris was not entitled to any of the orders and declarations sought.