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Two members of An Bord Pleanála ‘had conflicts of interest’ when granting 490 south Dublin housing units planning permission

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An Bord Pleanála HQ in Dublin

An Bord Pleanála HQ in Dublin

An Bord Pleanála HQ in Dublin

Two members of An Bord Pleanála who decided to grant planning permission for a Strategic Housing Development consisting of over 490 residential units in South County Dublin allegedly had conflicts of interest in the project, the High Court has heard.

Last April the board granted Oval Target Limited planning permission to construct 493 apartments and associated works in a €182m development at the site of St Teresa's House, Temple Hill, at Blackrock, in Co Dublin.

However, in a High Court challenge against the decision a group of residents have claimed Paul Hyde and Michelle Fagan, who were members of the board that granted permission, had conflicts of interest in the matter.

The two members in question, it is claimed should not have been members of a board that decided on the application, which they now say is invalid.

While the residents are not alleging any subjective bias or any impropriety on the two persons in question, they claim the decision to grant permission is vitiated by an apprehension of objective bias in favour of giving the project the go ahead.

The challenge has been brought by the Avondale Court Residents and Residents of St Vincent's Park groups as well as 17 individual residents which are all parties that live close to the proposed development.

They claim Mr Hyde is the brother of a partner in the Maurice Johnson & Partners who were hired as consultants on the proposed development.

Ms Fagan, it is alleged, is a 33pc shareholder and a co-founder of FKL Architects.

While she is on secondment to the board the residents claim that the ultimate owner of the developer in this action, Oakmount, is a client of the firm.

The firm, however, did not do any work on the proposed development.

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They applicants allege any ordinary reasonable member of society would form the view that the two members in question had a conflict of interest in the decision.

Their alleged involvement renders the permission invalid on grounds including there has been a breach of the planning authority's Code of Conduct, it is also alleged.

The applicants also claim that neither board member decelerated a conflict of interest at the board meeting where it was decided to grant permission to the proposed development.

In their action the residents say that they do not oppose housing being developed on the site; however, they say that the proposal approved by the board amounts to a significant over-development of the site which will consequently detract from the amenities of the local area.

Their judical review action is against the board, Ireland and the Attorney General and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Co Council.

The developer is a notice party to the proceedings.

Represented by John Kenny Bl instructed by solicitor Eoin Brady of FP Logue the applicants seek various orders and declarations from the court including an order quashing the decision.

Other grounds of the challenge include that in arriving at its decision to grant permission the board failed to justify a material contravention of height and housing density requirements contained in the local authority's development plan and under Sustainable Residential Development Guidelines.

It is also alleged the permission allows for the demolition of a protected structure in circumstances where there has been a failure to demonstrate the exceptional circumstances to justify such an action.

It is further claimed the permission granted is invalid because it does not comply with certain EU directives concerning the environment.

The matter was briefly mentioned before Mr Justice Conor Dignam during Wednesday's sitting of the High Court.

The Judge, after formally deeming the action opened, adjourned the challenge to a date later this month.

The action will be heard by a judge designated to hear challenges brought against Strategic Housing Developments.


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