Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Development Plan faces legal challenges from developers

The High Court actions concern lands in Stillorgan, Goatstown, and Bulloch Harbour in Dalkey
Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Development Plan faces legal challenges from developers

High court reporters

The newly adopted Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Development Plan is facing three separate legal challenges by developers over the rezoning of south Dublin residential lands for other purposes.

The High Court actions, concerning lands in Stillorgan, Goatstown, and Bulloch Harbour in Dalkey, aim to overturn the decision of county councillors in March 2022 to adopt the 2022-2028 plan, which came into effect in April.

The applications seeking leave of the court came before Ms Justice Niamh Hyland on Wednesday. She gave permission on an ex-parte basis for all three challenges to proceed. 

On the application of Neil Steen SC, with Niall Handy BL, developer Colbeam Limited sought to pursue its challenge over its concerns about the change to the zoning of part of the former site of Our Lady’s Grove school, which is some 850 metres from University College Dublin.

Colbeam, with offices in Sandyford, already has fast-tracked planning permission for a 698-bed student accommodation development on the site, but this is the subject of a separate judicial review challenge that is currently before the courts. If that action, brought by two local residents, is successful, the new zoning would affect any potential future planning application for the site. 

Rezoning to 'open space'

The developer wants an order quashing the decision to adopt the plan or, in the alternative, the adopted amendments made by way of council meeting motions by elected members, which related to the rezoning of part of the lands from institutional, which allows for “sustainable neighbourhood infrastructure”, to open space. 

It is also looking for a declaration as to its legal rights and the legal duties of the council in relation to the decision under challenge. 

Richard Barrett’s Bartra Property (Dublin) LTD, represented by barrister Eoghan Foley, is challenging the council’s decision to remove the residential reference in the zoning for its site at Bulloch Harbour. It is also seeking an order quashing the decision to adopt the plan.

In March of this year, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council refused planning permission sought by Bartra for a mixed-use scheme at harbour’s former Western Marine Building.

The third action is brought by Oceanscape Limited, based in Inchicore, Dublin, represented by Feichín McDonagh SC and John Kenny BL. It says the plan saw lands it owns at Stillorgan Business Park rezoned for educational facilities. 

The developer argues the rezoning amounts to a "sterilisation" of the site, as it says there is no basis to believe a school will be built there within the lifetime of the development plan. The move will cause the company "serious and irreparable" harm, costing it millions of euros, the firm’s director, Conor Hegarty, says in a sworn statement. 

The separate actions are each against Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, while the Minister for Education is a notice party in Oceanscape’s case.

All three cases were adjourned following the grant of leave.

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