Sunday 22 September 2019

Future of hostel used to accommodate 65 homeless people uncertain following High Court ruling

The High Court, Dublin
The High Court, Dublin

Aodhan O'Faolain

THE future of a south city Dublin hostel used as accommodation for homeless people is uncertain following a ruling by the High Court.

Mr Justice Donald Binchy held that a decision by Dublin City Council to allow Carman’s Hall, Francis Street, to be used and converted into a hostel was in material contravention of the area's local development plan.

The facility opened before Christmas 2016 and has been used as emergency temporary accommodation for rough sleepers.

It has a capacity of 65 beds and has been run by the Simon Community and the Salvation Army.

Local residents, through the Carman’s Hall Community Interest Group, Michael Mallin House Resident's Association and community worker Elizabeth O’Connor, brought High Court proceedings claiming the council was not entitled to convert the building into a hostel for the homeless.

They alleged the council’s decision of October 28, 2016, authorising change of use and refurbishment of the building, was unlawful, in breach of the planning laws and should be quashed.

They want the building, owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, to be used as a community centre.

They claim the hall was used as a community centre for many years before it was closed in 2013 over accessibility and fire safety concerns.

The council opposed the application arguing the hostel was opened to deal with the “humanitarian crisis” of rough sleepers in Dublin.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Binchy said that it was accepted that the hall was converted into a shelter for the homeless in order to deal with what is an emergency situation.  

However, he found the council's decision was in material contravention with objectives as set out in the local development plan for the south inner city.

Proper consideration was not given to claims that the hostel would result in an over concentration of such facilities for the homeless in the one the one area and the effects that would have on the local economy and community, he said.

The court was satisfied to quash the orders made by council.

The Judge said he was conscious of the impact the court's decision will have on the homeless situation.

He adjourned the matter to November 8 to allow the parties consider his judgment.

The hostel will remain open pending any decision made by the court on that date.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News