A High Court judge has granted leave for a challenge aimed at quashing permission for 165 residential units and a childcare facility in Co Wicklow.
A local interest group and the management company of a neighbouring housing development have brought the judicial review case over An Bord Pleanála’s permission last August for the housing and apartment units in Enniskerry village.
The Enniskerry Alliance and Enniskerry Demesne Management CLG claim the plans represent a “serious over-development” of the site off Cookstown Road.
The applicants, represented by John Kenny BL, instructed by F.P. Logue Solicitors, claim the proposed development constitutes a material contravention of zoning objectives in the Bray area. They also allege it does not meet development and design standards set out in the Wicklow County Development Plan, including in relation to childcare facilities and hedgerows.
Further grounds of challenge include claims the proposed build contravenes the density guidelines of Wicklow’s development plan.
The applicants say neither is opposed to an appropriate development in the village but the stated 31.9 units per hectare exceeds the levels ascribed under the local zoning objective for residential sites.
The board, they claim, failed to identify any adequate basis, as required under the 2016 strategic housing legislation, for its designation of the project as of strategic or national importance.
The board’s case, it is further claimed, is impaired by its factual error in describing Enniskerry as an “urban centre close to public transport and centres of employment”. Enniskerry, they say, is a rural village that is very poorly serviced by public transport.
Criticisms made in planning submissions by Enniskerry Alliance about “significant inadequacies” of an exit road’s ability to cope with additional traffic were not adequately addressed by An Bord Pleanála’s inspector, they say.
The applicants further allege the Board erred in allowing the proposed development to proceed while in contravention of Enniskerry’s Specific Housing Objectives, which states developments exceeding 60 units shall be broken up into smaller, differentiated estates. The developer’s proposal for a mix of housing and duplex unit “character areas” does not constitute the use of materially different design themes, the applicants contend.
Other grounds of challenge include alleged breaches of EU law concerning protection of habitats. The board, it is claimed, "failed to apply” the correct legal test in respect of bat fauna, which are entitled to strict protection.
The development will lead to the loss of some 400 metres of hedgerow, say the applicants, and the plan does not include proposals to replace these with the “same type of boundary”. It is claimed the Board erred in concluding that the proposed build would not contravene the local objective in relation to hedgerow removal.
Mr Justice Richard Humphreys granted leave on Monday to bring the proceedings and returned the matter to next month.