Wednesday, May 17, 2023

High Court reporters

The High Court has refused to quash two sets of planning permissions for a co-living development off North Great George’s Street in Dublin city.

Mr Justice Richard Humphreys held that the permissions granted for the schemes of more than 100 units were validly granted.

He dismissed the proceedings brought by the North Great George’s Street Preservation Society, which is comprised of local residents.

Permission for a 132-unit rental development was granted to developer Hillstreet Limited Partnership in 2019 by Dublin City Council, and in 2020 by An Bord Pleanála on appeal. Subsequent approval was given for 150 bed spaces for an alternative development on the site.

Both proposed builds range in height from three to seven storeys and involve the demolition of industrial buildings down a narrow laneway covered by an archway.

The society was permitted to alter its case to include the second development permission in its judicial review challenge.

Conflict of fact

In his judgment published this week, Mr Justice Richard Humphreys pointed to a series of errors in the society’s case, including an erroneous statement that an archway at 36a North Great George’s Street is to be demolished.

There was a conflict of fact about whether the archway was a protected structure, which the judge found it was not.

He also held against the society in its claim that the archway was protected as it fell within the curtilage of 36 North George’s Street, which has protected status. The judge said the laneway and archway were not part of the curtilage of number 36 as of 1971, or even for many decades before that.

He rejected all other grounds, including one relating to a condition, imposed by An Bord Pleanála, that the bedroom units shall be for single-occupancy only.

Mr Justice Humphreys did not agree with the society’s claim that the concept of single-occupancy is void for uncertainty and impermissibly vague.

He rejected this as “amounting in effect to an attack” on 2018 Department of Housing guidelines for the design of apartments. For this argument to be advanced, the society would have needed to challenge the validity of the 2018 guidelines themselves, he said, dismissing the action.

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