Neighbour launches challenge to €2m Clontarf 'homeless hub'
A High Court challenge has been brought against Dublin City Council's (DCC) 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 has been brought by Aidan Hickey, an artist who has lived at an adjoining property on St Lawrence Road for 30 years.
He claims the development of Aisling House by DCC amounts to unauthorised development.
Works are being carried out without planning permission being obtained and no public consultation process was gone through, he claims.
He says that, on August 2 - after local residents had threatened to bring legal proceedings over the development - DCC 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, appearing with Niall Handy for Mr Hickey, said his client is one of many of residents who were kept in the dark by the council after extensive and ongoing works began at Aisling House in April.
The work being carried out on the character of what is a protected structure is far more extensive than just repair or renewal works, counsel said.
Mr McGrath told the court that August 2 order 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, Mr Hickey has brought proceedings against DCC seeking an order quashing the decision of August 2.
He also seeks several declarations, including one that 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 comprise unauthorised works on protected structures, and that DCC has failed to comply 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.