Tuesday, February 28, 2023

High Court reporters

A Dublin plant hire firm claims in High Court proceedings that the rezoning of adjoining lands for mixed residential use could create “significant difficulties” for its business operations.

Pat O’Donnell and Company says it had to spend about €7 million relocating to Chapelizod, Ballyfermot, in 2005 after receiving noise complaints from residential neighbours when it was based in Fairview.

The firm wants the court to quash the decision of elected members last November to adopt the Dublin City Development Plan of 2022-2028 insofar as it adopts an alteration to the zoning of lands adjoining the firm’s Chapelizod land.

The adjoining site, owned by Uniphar Group plc, was previously zoned for enterprise and opportunities for employment creation prior but is zoned for “inner suburban and inner city sustainable mixed uses” under the new plan.

The chief executive of the council recommended the change as the site is close to services, amenities and the city centre. It will contribute to the “15-minute city objective”, he added.

Pat O’Donnell and Company, which employs 100 staff, had operated for more than 30 years from Richmond Avenue in Fairview.

Business there became “increasingly difficult” due to noise complaints from local residents and “severe restrictions” on noise levels and hours of operation imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, the company says.

‘Major financial commitment’

It took the firm more than a decade to find a site that was appropriately zoned, and the 2005 move was a “major financial commitment”, it says.

The key reason for choosing its site at California Heights was that it was away from residential sites and highly accessible to the motorway network, the company says.

At the High Court this week, the company’s counsel, Neil Steen SC, said his client is “extremely anxious” about the prospect of neighbouring residential development.

The decision under challenge is flawed because the chief executive of Dublin City Council did not comply with requirements when summarising Pat O’Donnell and Company’s submission on the plan, he said.

Elected members of the council cannot be expected to look through all of the submissions themselves, and so they rely on the chief executive’s summary in voting whether or not to adopt elements of the plan, Mr Steen said.

The chief executive’s summary of the firm’s submissions “simply doesn’t engage at all” with the company’s arguments, he added.

The firm is alleging other legal deficits in the decision to adopt the plan, including that the council failed to consider relevant issues and breached fair procedures by failing to provide the firm with a meaningful opportunity to be heard on the decision.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan was satisfied substantial legal grounds were raised in the case. He granted permission for the company to pursue its judicial review challenge. Only the plaintiff was notified of the application and represented in court.

The judge refused to grant a stay on the decision at this point, noting the company can come back to court seeking a stay if circumstances change.

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