Business Irish

Thursday 27 October 2016

'Tainted' ruling against O'Flynn housing plan is overturned

Aodhan O'Faolain

Published 11/08/2016 | 02:30

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The High Court has overturned a "tainted" refusal by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to grant planning permission to a company of property developer and investor Michael O'Flynn for a €75m residential development in South County Dublin.

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O'Flynn Capital Partners (OFCP), whose founder is Mr O'Flynn, had sought a judicial review of the council's July 31 2015 refusal for 164 residential units at Beech Park, Bray Road, Cabinteely/Loughlinstown.

The council, which had opposed the application, had refused permission on a number of grounds.

Yesterday Mr Justice Robert Haughton quashed the council's decision "in its entirety".

He remitted the matter back to the council for a fresh determination after finding that reasons given by the local authority for refusing permission were invalid and that irrelevant matters had been taken into consideration.

The council's refusal was tainted and in the circumstances the whole decision should be quashed, he said.

In his action Mr O'Flynn had claimed the council was "biased and had predetermined or prejudged the planning application" because of a dispute over a road leading into the proposed development.

OFCP and Mr O'Flynn have said that they would be prepared to negotiate access with other land owners in respect of the road.

OFCP's plan involves the demolition of 11 existing dwellings and the construction of a 158-metre section of the Druid Glen Road linking the proposed development to the N11 road.

Judge Haughton said one of the reasons the council had refused permission in respect of the Druid Glen Road was to avoid creating a ransom strip.

This was to effectively oblige the OFCP to make a joint or coordinated application with adjoining landowners in respect of that entire road.

This was an improper motive and involved the taking into account of irrelevant considerations, the judge added yesterday.

Mr O'Flynn had claimed the potential sales value of the developed land, acquired for more than €12m, should exceed €75m and also create around 100 full time construction jobs.

Council planners had refused permission on grounds including the development failed to provide a "high quality site-specific design response for the site" in relation to layout, ecology and landscape design.

The council said it would seriously injure the amenities or depreciate the value of property in the vicinity, was contrary to proper planning and is not consistent with the Cherrywood Planning Scheme in regard to its design and sequencing.

Mr O'Flynn had argued the refusal of permission for the section of the Druid Glen Road which traverses OFCP's land "will likely pose significant difficulties" for the delivery of any development in the area.

He said that until the dispute has been resolved it seemed likely none of the development proposed for a 36-acre area within the Cherrywood scheme could be built, including at one residentially-zoned area which could provide up to 543 new homes.

The proposal is located within a strategic development zone (SDZ) and a local area planning scheme.

As a result the council's refusal could not have been appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

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