Property developer Johnny Ronan has slammed a “scandalous” decision to overturn planning permission granted to increase the height of two apartment blocks in Dublin’s docklands.
The High Court today overturned, on consent, An Bord Pleanála’s permission for the increased height of two blocks of apartments in a development by Spencer Place Development Company, which is owned by Ronan Group Real Estate.
Mr Ronan described it as a “completely unnecessary legal action” which will delay the delivery of 548 “badly needed” residential units - including 47 social housing units - during a housing crisis.
The development comprises of more than 500 apartments/co-living spaces.
Construction work on the site has now been completely halted following the decision.
Dublin City Council brought proceedings against An Bord Pleanála over the board’s December 2019 decision to permit height increase in the development, being carried out by a company owned by Mr Ronan, in the North Lotts/Grand Canal strategic development zone (SDZ) of the north Dublin docklands.
The council had opposed the height increases from seven to 13 storeys in relation to one block and from seven to 11 for the second.
The matter will now go back to the Board for reconsideration, Mr Justice Denis McDonald directed.
“This is all based on a technicality. It can be easily rectified but they’ve stopped construction now and added millions to the cost,” Mr Ronan said.
“It is after causing havoc with employees on site. I would go as far as to describe it as a scandal.
“The election was all about housing... this shows why the planning system is broken.”
A spokesperson for Spencer Place Development Company described the action by DCC as “regrettable.”
“Every unit built is part of the solution but the Council has created a problem where there was none.
“Dublin City Council’s express function is ‘to enhance the city’s attraction as a place in which to invest, to work, to live and to visit.’
“The application of the Local Authority’s time and resources in initiating a costly High Court Action against An Bord Pleanála – funded by ratepayers and taxpayers – flies in the face of this. It makes Dublin a less attractive place to invest, and a more difficult place in which to live.
“People have a right to expect better from Dublin City Council, and the planning process. This is a perverse outcome”.
The council argued the SDZ planning scheme for the lands only permits heights of up to ten storeys.
It was also argued an SDZ can only be amended through a process that includes a fresh round of public consultation.
After the council refused permission, Mr Ronan’s company appealled to An Bord Pleanála which overruled its own inspector’s recommendation and gave the go ahead to increase one block from seven to 13 storeys and a second block from seven to 11.
The council then initiated judicial review proceedings last month challenging the Board’s decision.
The reconsideration of the matter now has to be completed within six weeks.
On Thursday, Mr Justice Denis McDonald was told the parties had agreed orders could be made on consent.