Saturday, 25 October 2008

Docklands authority will accept north quays ruling

THE DUBLIN Docklands Development Authority has told the Commercial Court it is not appealing against a court decision that it acted outside its powers in granting "fast-track" permission for a €200 million development on Dublin's north quays.

There is speculation that the decision not to appeal against Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan's judgment earlier this month means it may yet be exposed to multimillion-euro compensation claims from developers.

The judgment could also affect the dockland authority's plans to create a high-rise quarter jutting out into the Liffey along North Wall Quay, east of Spencer Dock.

This scheme would have been facilitated by North Quay Investments Ltd ceding land, free of charge.

Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan on October 3rd upheld developer Seán Dunne's challenge to the granting of permission for a rival development by North Quay Investments Ltd, owned by Liam Carroll, on the former Brooks Thomas site at North Wall Quay.

The judgment has implications for a separate challenge by the Spencer Dock Development Company related to the same north quays development.

The judge ruled there was "a direct relationship" between the docklands authority decision to grant approval for the North Quay development under section 25 of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority Act 1997 and the company giving part of the site to the authority for public space.

The nature of a confidential agreement reached in May 2007 between the docklands authority and Mr Carroll's company before the exemption was issued in July 2007 gave rise to a "reasonable apprehension of bias" by Dublin Docklands in reaching its decision, she ruled.

When the Spencer Dock proceedings were mentioned at the Commercial Court yesterday, Ms Emily Egan, for the docklands authority, told Mr Justice Peter Kelly there would be no appeal against the decision upholding Seán Dunne's challenge.

Discovery applications in the Spencer Dock proceedings were adjourned to next month.

In its action, the Spencer Dock Development Company has claimed there was a "covert contract" between the docklands authority and North Quay Investments relating to the development on the north quays which had created an uneven playing pitch among developers in the docklands.

The Spencer Dock company which controls extensive development lands over 29 acres claims the docklands authority "seriously compromised itself" in relation to alleged commitments to North Quay Investments under the agreement and had given North Quay "a considerable commercial advantage".

The docklands authority may be liable for millions in losses to Spencer Dock Development Company as a result of the agreement as North Quay Investments had effectively secured a "re-writing of the planning scheme" to ensure "the maximum benefit" for the lands owned by it, Spencer Dock claims.

Meanwhile, Mr Dunne and his North Wall Property Holding Company are pursuing their application for a High Court injunction requiring North Quay to "remove" an €83 million office block development constructed as part of the overall North Quay development following the High Court ruling.

They say they are entitled to the order following the High Court's decision that the docklands authority acted outside its powers.

The Irish Times

No comments: