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Councillors ask for judicial review over green light for apartments

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The controversial apartment development recently given the go-ahead for Fosterstown

The controversial apartment development recently given the go-ahead for Fosterstown

The controversial apartment development recently given the go-ahead for Fosterstown

fingalindependent

Swords councillors have called for a judicial review over the decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission to MKN Property Group for an apartment complex at Fosterstown, Swords.

The Strategic Housing Development (SHD) is to be constructed as part of Phase 1 plans at the townlands of Fosterstown North and Cremona, Swords.

The development will see the construction of hundreds of new apartments as well as a creche and retail units.

The Strategic Housing Development process allows large-scale developments to bypass local authorities and go straight to An Bord Pleanála.

A motion put forward by Cllr Dean Mulligan (I4C) and Cllr Ann Graves (SF) at a recent meeting of the full council - and signed by all Swords councillors - called on Fingal County Council to challenge the decision by An Bord Pleanála by way of a judicial review.

The reasons cited for calling for a judicial review were that the board's decision was deemed contrary to the Fingal Development Plan objectives, 'including, but not limited to building heights adjoining Forest Road' and 'mass over-development in terms of net densities.'

The motion stated there was a real need for appropriate housing at this location, as well as a primary school site secured as a condition of any new development.

Speaking at the council meeting, Cllr Cahal Boland (NP) said it was 'extremely important' that a judicial review was sought.

He said the current planning process of SHDs was 'a dishonest one', which suggests it speeds up planning when this was not the case.

Cllr Boland said the council's obligation was to make a decision on planning applications 'within eight weeks.'

To 'change the whole system', he said, was 'a load of nonsense.'

He believed the location in question was suitable for development but 'the scale of the thing is wrong.'

Acknowledging the 'major item of contention today' was An Bord Pleanála's ruling on the Fosterstown development,

Fingal County Council Chief Executive, AnnMarie Farrelly told councillors that a judicial review could not be taken 'lightly.'

As Strategic Housing Developments remove the local authority as planning authority, she said, the council's role was 'quite clear' - reporting and making recommendations and feeding back the views of local councillors.

Ms Farrelly asked if councillors would allow the council to consider An Bord Pleanála's decision before making a decision on whether to pursue a judicial review, but noted such a decision was 'questionable.'

Ms Farrelly asked for time for the council to come back to councillors with a report, either to the Area Committee or to the full council when planners have fully considered the decision.

The council has since reported it believes there is 'no clear path' for it to pursue a judicial review but that it was still open for an individual to pursue the case.


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