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Close ally of Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien objects to €360m development of 1,300 new homes

Fianna Fáil councillor has contributed €325 to action group bringing High Court challenge over development in north Co Dublin


Fianna Fáil Councillor Adrian Henchy and Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien

Fianna Fáil Councillor Adrian Henchy and Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien

Fianna Fáil Councillor Adrian Henchy and Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien

A Fianna Fáil councillor and close ally of Darragh O’Brien is backing a campaign to overturn planning permission for more than 1,300 new homes in the Housing Minister’s constituency.

Fingal councillor Adrian Henchy has contributed €325 to a local community group that has lodged a High Court challenge against the €360m Corballis East housing development proposed by Cannon Kirk in Donabate, north Co Dublin.

His opposition comes despite Tánaiste Micheál Martin repeatedly urging politicians, particularly those in Fianna Fáil, not to object to residential developments in the midst of a major housing and homelessness crisis.

Mr Henchy, who is considered a close colleague of Mr O’Brien’s in the Fingal area, has been one of the politicians centrally involved in the campaign to oppose the scheme, which is being led by the Portrane Donabate Community Council. 

The local campaign group is seeking to raise €40,000 from residents to fund its judicial review case. Mr Henchy has donated €200 to a GoFundMe page set up to fund the High Court challenge. He previously donated €125 to a similar fundraising drive on behalf of the community council to oppose the initial application to An Bord Pleanála.

Mr Henchy argues the proposal from Aledo Donabate, the Cannon Kirk entity that plans to develop the site, goes against the local area plan and does not have a sufficient mix of units as around 1,000 of the proposed homes are apartments or duplexes. There are also strong environmental concerns around the proposed development of the site, which was zoned two decades ago. 

Mr Henchy told the Sunday Independent: “The densities are of a scale that is far more appropriate for city centre than it is for peninsula on the edge of Dublin. There is significant development going on in Donabate, if the application had been more tweaked to be more in line with local area plan I would have wholeheartedly supported it like I have with other applications.” 

Mr O’Brien’s spokesperson said the Minister agreed with party leader Mr Martin’s view but was legally precluded from getting involved in an individual planning case under the Planning and Development Act.

Mr Henchy said he had told Mr O’Brien of his “serious concerns” about the proposal. 

The councillor said it was his belief that Mr O’Brien “would be supportive of the local area plan that was adopted. I can’t say he’d oppose this [development]”.

But it had been was opposed by Fingal County Council chief executive and the local authority planners, Mr Henchy said.

A spokesperson for Mr O’Brien said: “The Minister agrees with Tánaiste Micheál Martin, and has also made it very clear that politicians, be they councillors, senators or TDs, should not object to much needed housing developments.”

The High Court heard earlier this month how Portrane Donabate Community Council was seeking judicial review of the permission granted by An Bord Pleanála for the strategic housing development at Corballis East, as well as a local retail centre, three creches, a reserved site for a new school and a 35-acre nature park.

The community council has argued the planning board disregarded the expert opinion that scale, size and location of the development are wrong, the county development plan and ongoing infrastructural defects in the area.​

A spokesperson for Aledo Donabate said; “For the past four years, we have consistently sought to engage with the Donabate Portrane Community Council and work with them on this development, taking their feedback into account. They and their local public representatives have also refused to meet us at every turn.”

Last November, An Bord Pleanála gave the green light to the contentious plans, which have been opposed by Fingal County Council, under the Strategic Housing Development (SHD) rules which allow developers to bypass local planning authorities and go straight to the planning board.

It is thought to be the second biggest such housing scheme under SHD rules in the State. 

As minister, Mr O’Brien has moved to abolish SHDs in order to allow for more consultation at a local level and cut down on the number of judicial reviews being taken in the courts.

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