Cork County Council brings High Court challenge against Minister in row over  county development plan

Cork County Council brings High Court challenge against Minister in row over  county development plan

In judicial review proceedings against the Minister for Local Government and Planning, Ireland the Attorney General seeks an order quashing the Minister's direction of December 23rd last that the council remove variations made to the County Development Plan.

Cork County Council has brought a High Court Challenge against the Minister for Local Government and the State over a direction that the local authority removes a variation it made to its county development plan.

The council's elected members made variations to the Cork County Development Plan (2014) including one regarding retail planning strategy in January 2020, after they had considered a detail report on the issue.

The variation was made after the council was satisfied that there is a capacity for having a major retail outlet centre in the Cork metropolitan area, and that such a proposal would not have an adverse impact on other retail centres in the area.

It further held that such a development would significantly benefit the life attractiveness and vitality of the locality.

However last December the Minister for Local Government and Planning directed the council to remove the variation.

The Minister said that the variation meant the 2014 Cork Development Plan was now inconsistent with national Guidelines on Spatial Planning and failed to set out an overall strategy for the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

The Minister also said that the Office of the Planning Regulator, which carries out independent assessment of all local authority and regional forward planning, was of the opinion that the variation had not been made in a manner consistent with its recommendations.

The Office of the Planning Regulator, which in submissions to the Council, said that the variations were not consistent with the Minister's planning guidelines regarding retail planning is a notice party to the proceedings.

The Minister added that the Council should revert to the terms of its original development plan.

Represented by James Connolly SC, and Stephen Dodd SC the council says the Minister's decision is flawed, irrational and unlawful and is of no legal effect.

Counsel said that the Minister has acted without jurisdiction. It is also submitted that both the Minister and the notice party had misinterpreted the Guidelines, and had taken irrelevant considerations into account.

In judicial review proceedings against the Minister for Local Government and Planning, Ireland the Attorney General seeks an order quashing the Minister's direction of December 23rd last that the council remove variations made to the County Development Plan.

The Council also seeks various declarations including that sections of the 2018 Planning and Development (Amendment) Act is unconstitutional, and are void and have no legal effect.

Permission to bring the challenge was granted, on an ex-parte basis by Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Monday. The matter was adjourned to a date in April.

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