THE owners of a landmark former church building near Croke Park had the law on their side when they began demolition work on it three years ago, the High Court has ruled.
Mr Justice John MacMenamin said that partial demolition work on the former Methodist Church on Jones Road, Dublin, did not require planning permission
He acknowledged that the consequence of his decision will be the demolition of the entire building. He adjourned the making of specific orders for two weeks.
While he was conscious it was a local landmark, a familiar point of reference for Croke Park patrons, and that his decision may annoy and frustrate local residents, it was the duty of the court to uphold the law.
Regulations introduced in 2008, around the same time as the demolition work was carried out, did not come into force in time to save this building, the judge said.
He also said it might be thought that the building should have been given a protected status years ago, but it had not.
The High Court challenge against Dublin City Council, with An Board Pleanala as notice party, was brought by Mayo businessman John Healy.
Along with partners Adrian McNally, Liam Healy and Sham Rudden Abehim, he bought the building in January 2007. The partners intended to redevelop it for further commercial use, the court heard.
The judge noted the building had not been identified as a protected structure in the city development plan for 2005-2011.
In 2008, after demolition had begun, the council ordered work to cease. It appeared there had been a number of protests from locals, the judge said.