McDonald's wins right to open up new branch near school
Fast food giant McDonald's will be able to open a restaurant less than 100 metres from a Wicklow school after the High Court dismissed a challenge to its planning permission.
Temple Carrig school's board of management claimed McDonald's Restaurants Ireland Ltd chose the location at Blacklion, Greystones, because it is close to the school, and two others, Gaelscoil Na Clocha Liatha and Greystones Educate Together, which between them cater for 1,800 students.
It challenged a September 30, 2015, decision by An Bord Pleanála approving a development comprising a McDonald's restaurant, health and fitness studio and commercial unit at the Blacklion Neighbourhood Centre.
While the school may take some comfort from the fact McDonald's appears, "for now, at least", to have lost interest in proceeding with the restaurant, and it presently seems more likely a supermarket will be developed on the site, the school's concern is the permission McDonald's obtained remains in being, Mr Justice Max Barrett said.
The school decided to proceed with its case due to concerns the "pendulum of commerce may yet swing again" and a fast-food restaurant unwanted by the board may yet be built close to the school, he said.
The school did not consider having a fast-food restaurant almost on its doorstep "is conducive to healthy eating by impressionable children going to and from the school".
While many would instinctively answer "no" if asked whether it is a good idea to place an "alluring" fast-food restaurant close by a school entrance, that was not the issue in the case, the judge said.
The issue was whether An Bord Pleanála erred in how it made its decision and the court's conclusion was it had not, and that it did all that was required of it under the Planning and Development Act 2000.
He found no error in the board's decision to grant permission, by a four-to-one majority, generally in accordance with recommendations of its inspector.
He dismissed claims the board failed to meet obligations under the Act to "have regard to" Government policies and objectives concerning the health of children.
The statutory obligation to "have regard to" such policies and objectives does not, for example, entail an obligation to follow such polices, he said.