— 135 car park spaces on new deck above railway sidings should have been assessed, says High Court.
— Fewer car parking spaces needed in city centre for vibrant, liveable city, says campaigners.
BREAKING NEWS / TO BE UPDATED: Permission for ‘fast-tracked’ housing on the grounds of Connolly Station in Dublin has been quashed by the High Court due to a car park which developer claimed did not need planning permission.
IrishCycle.com previously covered the issues in detail back in February 2020.
The developer had argued that building a new car park — on a new structure which is part of the housing — elevated over a railway siding should be seen as exempted development, which did not need planning permission.
Both Dublin City Council and the Dublin Cycling Campaign raised issues with the car park, and the latter too a case to the High Court against An Bord Pleanála. The Developer, Oxley Holdings, and the council were notice parties.
“Reducing excessive city centre car parking is a key objective in our vision of Dublin as a vibrant, liveable city – not one clogged by congestion and emissions.” said Kevin Baker, chairperson of the Dublin Cycling Campaign, in a statement issued after the judgment was released..
He said: “The developers wanted to have their cake and eat it too. They wanted to build 135 new parking spaces to sweeten their deal with CIÉ, but they didn’t want those same new parking spaces assessed as part of the Strategic Housing Development.”
“By excluding these new car parking spaces from the site notice many members of the public would have been completely unaware that the developer proposed to construct them,” said Baker.
The High Court found An Bord Pleanála was not in a position to tell the developer how to apply for permission, but it ruled that the development falls outside the Strategic Housing Development because the area of the 135 car park pushes the total area for other non-housing uses up above what’s allowed in the fast track planning system.
The limit on non-housing within the fast-track system is to ensure the fast-track system is focused on housing.
In his written judgment, Mr Justice Denis McDonald that it was “wholly implausible” that the car park area on the new deck isn’t part of the development.
In his judgment, the Judge said: “…although no application was being made for planning permission for car parking on the deck within the housing development, the deck would be used for this purpose and the reason why it was not being included in the application was not because it did not form part of the development but because it allegedly constituted an existing use and, moreover, that Oxley was legally obliged to provide these spaces under the terms of the development agreement in question with CIÉ. Against that backdrop, it is wholly implausible, in my view, to suggest that the proposed use of the deck as a car park does not fall, as a matter of simple fact, within the ambit of ‘other uses on the land’ included in the proposed housing development.”
The Judge said: “The car park is situated on the deck which has been described, in the materials before the Board and the court and in the submissions of counsel for Oxley, as an essential structural component of the residential development. I find it impossible to see how, in those circumstances, it can be suggested that this use (which is clearly not aspirational but regarded as necessary in order to comply with an existing contractual obligation owed by Oxley to CIÉ) is not included in the proposed residential development comprised in Block B.”
The Judge added: “In these circumstances, it is entirely understandable why, there are several references in the documents created on behalf of Oxley to the car parking being housed within the ‘SHD development’”. That reflects the reality of what was proposed in explicit terms to the Board in the material submitted with the application for permission. While Oxley stated that it was not applying for permission in respect of this use, the use was one which it envisaged would, in fact, occur on an integral element of the specific development in respect of which the application was made.”
I really hope a solution can be found here that allows the development to go ahead. Dublin desperately needs new housing and this is one of the highest quality proposals we’ve seen in the past five years.