Friday 24 November 2017

High Court challenge over Clontarf facility for homeless families

High Court Dublin
High Court Dublin

Aodhan O'Faolain

A High Court challenge has been brought against Dublin City Council's plans to turn a former guest house into accommodation for homeless families.

The application has been brought in respect of a property located at 19 and 20 St. Lawrence Road, Clontarf, known as Aisling House, which last December was bought for almost €2m by a housing agency on behalf of DCC.

The council plans to turn the Victorian era red brick terraced properties into a "homeless hub" for families who are experiencing homelessness and are living in hotels. 

The challenge to DCC's proposal has been brought by Mr Aidan Hickey, an artist who has lived  at an adjoining properties on St Lawrence Road for the last 30 years.

He claims the development of Aisling House by DCC amounts to unathorised development.

Works are being carried out on the property without planning permission being obtained and no public consultation process was gone through, he claims.

He claims that on August 2nd last Dublin City Council, after local residents had threatened to being legal proceedings over the development, made an order under section 179 of the Planning and Development Act  allowing repair and renewal works to be carried out at Aisling House.

That order, it is claimed, was made after DCC deemed the works necessary for dealing urgently with a situation that the council deems an emergency where immediate action is required.

Barrister Declan McGrath SC, appearing with Niall Handy Bl,  for Mr Hickey said his client is one of many of residents who were kept in the dark by the council after extensive and on-going works began at Aisling House last April.

The extensive work being carried on the character of what is a protected structure  is far more extensive than just repair or renewal works, counsel said.

Counsel told the court that the order of August 2nd is flawed and represented a retrospective attempt to cure proceedings that had been threatened by local residents, some four months after works had started.

As a result of DCC Mr Hickey has brought proceedings against DCC seeking an order quashing DCC's decision of August 2 last.

He also seeks several declarations including one the DCC's decision in respect of Aisling House is null and void, that the development is unauthorised, and that the development being undertaken there amounts to a material contravention of the Dublin City Development plan.

He further seeks declarations that the works being carried out at Aisling House comprise of the unauthorised works on protected structures, and that DCC has failed to comply with with building regulations.

The ex-parte application came before Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly, who granted Mr Hickey's lawyers permission to bring their application on notice to  DCC.

The Judge adjourned the matter to a date in October.

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