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An Bord Pleanála backs down on High Court challenge regarding the Bridge Hotel refusal in Wexford

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An impression of the front of the proposed Bridge Park Hotel from the viewpoint of Wexford Bridge.

An impression of the front of the proposed Bridge Park Hotel from the viewpoint of Wexford Bridge.

An impressionof the front of the proposed Bridge Park Hotel.

An impressionof the front of the proposed Bridge Park Hotel.

Colm Neville.

Colm Neville.

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An impression of the front of the proposed Bridge Park Hotel from the viewpoint of Wexford Bridge.

wexfordpeople

An Bord Pleanála has backed down from a High Court legal challenge by Wexford businessmen Colm and Anthony Neville over its decision to refuse planning permission a second time for a new 142-bedroom hotel on Commercial Quay.

The brothers sought a judicial view of the planning board’s refusal of the proposed Bridge Park Hotel project, requesting that it be set aside and declared unlawful.

The board refused permission for the development on appeal last October despite its own inspector recommending that the hotel be granted planning permission.

It was the second time that the project by CoAnt Entertainments Ltd was turned down by the board after Wexford County Council twice gave it the go-ahead before their decisions were appealed by third parties.

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The company, which spent hundreds of thousands of euros on the two planning applications and appeals, instituted legal proceedings against An Bord Pleanála earlier this year.

The case was adjourned a number of times at the request of the appeals board, with the next High Court adjournment date set for October 10.

But in the latest development, An Bord Pleanála has publicly confirmed that it is conceding the claim made by the Neville brothers and the case is to be “remitted to the board for renewed consideration.”

A spokesman for the board said the High Court case was conceded on the basis of legal advice in relation to the adequacy of the reason given for refusal.

He said the remittal of the case means that the Board will deal with the consideration of the project again.

The Board’s climb-down has been communicated to the Neville Brothers, who declined to comment further on the case this week.

The court has not yet signed off on the final order so the exact directions to the board are not yet settled.

It is possible that the court will order the board to consider the CoAnt hotel application afresh but it could direct that the board starts from a particular point in the original case.

The spokesman said An Bord Pleanála “will have full discretion as to how it decides the remitted case.”

The basis of the Nevilles’ judicial review case was partly based on the lack of information given by the board in relation to the reasons for refusal.

When there is a planning refusal, the applicant is given the reasons and an outline of what is required and this was done after the first refusal.

Colm Neville said CoAnt put a huge effort into the second application in addressing all the relevant issues raised in the first refusal and this was accepted by the board’s inspector who recommended that permission be granted but the board went against that recommendation and according to Colm Neville “copied and pasted” the previous reason for rejecting the application word for word.

An Bord Pleanála turned down the hotel plan “having regard to the massing, scale and design of the proposed development on a landmark/gateway site to Wexford town”.

It said it considered that the development would be “highly obtrusive, visually incongruous with the existing streetscape, would detract from the architectural heritage, would seriously injure the visual amenities of the area and would fail to adequately respond to its context or integrate successfully with the immediate and surrounding built environment.”

In deciding not to accept its planning inspector’s recommendation to grant permission, the board did not agree that the proposed development would not seriously injure the visual amenities of the area. 


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