Monday, November 07, 2022

High court reporters

A developer has brought a High Court action aimed at voiding South Dublin County Council’s decision to adopt a new local development plan.

Jones Investments Ltd and its director Christopher Jones allege their five-acre site on Stocking Avenue in Knocklyon has “effectively been sterilised” for 22 years due to the Department of Education’s inaction in determining if a school should be developed there.

While the lands, owned by Mr Jones, have since 2004 been zoned for new residential development, they are also subject to a “specific local objective” to provide for a school.

In legal papers, Mr Jones and the company, which has a registered address on Mespil Road in Ballsbridge, Dublin, submit there “is not and has never been a rationale” for the objective of providing a school on the lands.

They say protracted correspondence between them and the Department demonstrates the site is not required for a primary school and is unfit for a secondary school due to its size.

‘Irrational and unreasonable’

Maintaining the specific objective in the 2022-2028 plan was “irrational and unreasonable”, they claim.

Mr Jones says he has tried unsuccessfully for many years to get the Department to purchase the lands. Since 2006, he has allegedly attempted to ascertain the Department’s future plans for the site, including any proposed timescale for any development of a school.

In 2017, the Department offered to buy a nearby 20-acre site, which is co-owned by Mr Jones, as an alternative site for a school, the applicants claim.

On foot of this, Jones Investments applied for planning permission for 51 houses and 14 apartments at the Stocking Avenue plot, but this was refused by the council and later An Bord Pleanála on account of the objective for a school there under the county development plan, it is claimed.

The board also said the 20-acre site was not suitable for a school due to issues around public transport there, the applicants say.

In their judicial review action, Mr Jones and the firm say the decision to continue the specific objective in the latest iteration of the South Dublin County Development Plan constitutes an “impermissible and disproportionate attack” on their constitutionally protected property rights.


They claim the decision to adopt the plan is invalid as the council allegedly failed to provide adequate reasons for attaching a specific objective to the Stocking Avenue site. The only explanation given was that the Department has confirmed the zoning should be retained to meet projected educational needs, the applicants allege.

Further, they say the plan is not consistent with Ministerial guidelines, as the council allegedly failed to undertake a site-specific process in preparing the plan.

Alternatively, the council had insufficient regard to the guidelines, which is contrary to the Planning and Development Act, the applicants contend.

Mr Jones and the developer, through their barrister John Kenny, instructed by solicitor Brendan Slattery of McCann Fitzgerald LLP, brought an application on Monday seeking the court’s permission to pursue their challenge against South Dublin County Council. The Minister for Education is a notice party to the proceedings.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan adjourned the leave application until January, directing the applicants to notify the council and the Minister of the hearing.

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