Local residents in Rathcoole, Co Dublin have taken a legal challenge aimed at overturning planning approval for a development that includes 204 residential units.
At the High Court today, Mr Justice Richard Humphreys granted permission for the action to be brought against An Bord Pleanála and the State, with the developer, Homeville Devlopments Ltd, as a notice party. He fixed a provisional hearing date in June.
On the application of John Kenny BL, instructed by solicitor Fred Logue, the judge granted a stay on works linked to the development, subject to the respondents having liberty to apply at 72 hours notice to lift or vary that.
Protection of bats
Mr Kenny said the applicants are concerned about the protection of bats in hedgerows and trees and feared, if there was no stay, the hedgerows and trees could be removed.
The action is by Four Districts Woodlands Habitat Group; BCM Residents Association; Rathcoole Park Residents Association and Forest Hill Residents Association, all with different addresses in Rathcoole.
The groups say, while they each have a different focus, all “are dedicated to the protection of the built and natural environment of the historic village of Rathcoole and the surrounding area”.
They want orders quashing the board’s November 2020 permission for the demolition of existing residential units and construction of 204 residential units, a childcare facility, and associated works, at Stoney Hill Road, Rathcoole.
Their core claims include that the pre-consultation procedures provided for in the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 are invalid and incompatible with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive and the requirements of fair procedures and natural and constitutional justice.
This is so because the pre-consultation process, which determines whether an application qualifies for strategic housing development consent, does not permit public participation, it is argued. Section 9.6 of the 2016 Act, which sets out the Board's obligations when considering strategic housing planning applications, is invalid and or incompatible with the requirements of the Strategic Environmental Impact Directive, it is also alleged.
Other claims include the board was required to refuse the planning application on grounds it failed to comply with regulations concerning EIA screening and that the board erred in failing to give any, or any adequate regard, for the protection of bat fauna as required under the Habitats Directive.
Further claims include that the proposed development materially contravenes the South Dublin County Council Development Plan 2016-22 on grounds of alleged absence of an approved and adopted local area plan for Rathcoole. It is claimed the board was not entitled to rely on a non-statutory area plan submitted by the developer.
The proposed density of 40 residential units per hectare is not in accordance with the 2009 guidelines for planning authorities on sustainable development in urban areas and the board erred in finding the developer had justified a 15-metre height of the apartments element of the development, it is claimed.