Residents can't risk €100k judicial review costs to fight housing project at Good Shepherd Convent site

Residents can't risk €100k judicial review costs to fight housing project at Good Shepherd Convent site
The Good Shepherd Convent is the site of a major housing plan.

RESIDENTS opposed to a large-scale housing development on the city’s northside have ruled out pursuing a judicial review on legal and cost grounds.

An Bord Pleanála upheld a City Hall planning decision in September that will see the construction of 182 apartments and 20 houses on the site of the historic Good Shepherd Convent but local residents in the Sunday’s Well, Shanakiel and Blarney Street areas had objected on the grounds that local infrastructure could not support it.

The Good Shepherd Community Action Group explored the possibility of a judicial review but said in a statement that it could not proceed with the legal action which could have left them facing costs of up to €100,000 if the case was lost.

Instead, they said they will continue to monitor the development to ensure the conditions of planning are adhered to and they may support a candidate for local elections with a mandate to make Cork City Council more accountable in terms of its commitment to the Cork City Development Plan.

A computer-generated view of how the redeveloped Good Shepherd Convent might look.
A computer-generated view of how the redeveloped Good Shepherd Convent might look.

“After consultation with Mr Fred Logue, our solicitor in Dublin, and having got a nine-page evaluation from a barrister expert in planning law, the Committee has decided that it cannot go forward with an action to the High Court,” the group said in a statement.

“This is because although our case is strong, there are legal technicalities in the way that such cases are dealt with under Irish Law. A worst-case scenario is a personal liability to the Committee amounting up to €100,000, which we as ordinary citizens cannot sustain.

“However, we intend to continue our campaign against this development through other legal actions open to us, and we are creating a framework which will enable us to look out for the best interests of the surrounding community should a developer for this area decide to take on the plan as approved by An Bord Pleanala.”

Spokesperson for the group, Tom Coleman, said he was “bitterly disappointed” but accepted the burden of cost was too much for locals to take on.

Local Councillor Kenneth Collins said legal proceedings costs “squeezed” the residents out and he feels the area will be “destroyed” by the development.

“Big business has won out again. I personally think it will destroy a historic area of Cork city. The €100,000 would be taken out of citizen’s pockets [for the judicial review] because they would have to fund it themselves.

“It is disgraceful. I remain 100% behind the residents and will continue to support them. They are not against development but one on this scale is overkill,” he added.

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