A decision to grant planning permission for a 38,000-seat stadium in the heart of West Belfast was unlawful, a judge has ruled.
However Mr Justice Horner has not yet quashed the decision to extend the GAA’s Casement Park.
A packed Belfast High Court heard that the decision-making process deployed by Northern Ireland Environment Minister Mark H Durkan had been “inadequate and unlawful”, but the judge stopped short of overturning the decision to give permission for the £77 million redevelopment.
Instead Mr Justice Horner adjourned the case until later this week and has invited further submissions from the GAA and residents’ legal representatives about a way forward.
Mr Justice Horner said: “The department was wrong legally and factually to make the decision.”
A residents’ group had taken legal proceedings against Mark H Durkan’s decision to approve the £77 million redevelopment.
Anxious wait to see if court vindicates my decision to approve the major redevelopment of Casement Park. Fingers crossed!— Mark H Durkan (@MarkHDurkan) December 15, 2014
Tom Daly, chairman of the Casement Park Project Board, issued a statement following the decision.
“We are deeply disappointed by the outcome of today’s decision by Mr. Justice Horner,” it read.
“The proposed redevelopment of Casement Park would have provided the opportunity of a world class provincial stadium for the GAA and the broader community in the heart of Belfast. The project would also have provided much needed economic and social benefits to West Belfast and beyond, including financial investment, new jobs, apprenticeships and community projects.
"The new stadium would also have supported the GAA’s plan to develop and grow grassroots Gaelic Games within the city and the county of Antrim. Over the coming weeks we will reflect on this decision and consider what the next steps are for Casement Park.”
The Mooreland and Owenvarragh Residents’ Association contested that their homes would be dwarfed by the new stadium.