A High Court judge has granted leave for a challenge aimed at overturning permission for a 698-bed student accommodation development in Goatstown, south Dublin.
Two local residents have brought the judicial review case over An Bord Pleanála’s expedited permission in June for the eight-block development on the former site of Our Lady’s Grove school, some 850 metres from University College Dublin.
This is the second time strategic housing development plans for this site have faced legal challenge, with a previous fast-track permission for 132 apartments quashed in the High Court in March 2020.
Having been told a core ground of the applicants case is that the removal of trees would contravene the local development plan, Mr Justice David Holland granted an order to stop the developer from interfering with any trees on the site pending the next court date on November 8th.
Normal planning process
Developer Colbeam Limited applied for permission directly to An Bord Pleanála, bypassing the normal planning process, as a strategic housing development. Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown council was consulted, however, and recommended planning permission be refused, said Stephen Dodds SC, instructed by FP Logue solicitors, for the applicants.
Residents of The Grove, Goatstown, Wendy Jennings and Adrian O’Connor, say they are not opposed to a development at the location, but they believe this represents a “significant” over-development of the site. They said they also have significant concerns as to the viability of dedicated student accommodation there.
They claim the board's permission for the €160 million project is invalid on grounds including it contravenes Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown’s requirements for open spaces.
The area development plan is also contravened in relation to building height, they allege. The Board’s decision further breaches the Planning Act’s Part V requirement for the provision of social housing, they claim.
European habitat protections
Other grounds include alleged breaches of European Union law concerning protection of habitats, as it is claimed the board “failed to apply the correct legal test” in respect of bat fauna. Questions of validity also pertain to the State’s alleged failure to properly transpose an article of the European Habitats Directive.
Martin Hayden SC, representing Colbeam, a notice party, said a delay to the completion of the build past the summer of 2024 would make the company vulnerable to a €10.5 million loss, due to potentially missing the start of the next school year.
Separately on Tuesday, the management company of an estate in Dundrum initiated legal proceedings seeking to quash permission for the nearby construction of 231 residential units on the former Marist Fathers site of Mount St. Marys.
Churchfields Management Company CLG, represented by John Kenny BL, instructed by FP Logue solicitors, allege the Board’s August decision is invalid due to material contraventions of zoning objectives. Also included in the core grounds are that the planning authority allegedly failed to conduct the required preliminary environmental impact assessment exercise and the decision constitutes a material contravention of the local zoning objective to preserve trees and woodlands.
On Tuesday Mr Justice Holland adjourned the leave application until November 8th.