DUBLIN CITY manager John Tierney has rejected calls for an inquiry into his planners’ handling of the application by Seán Dunne to develop the former Jurys/Berkeley Court site in Ballsbridge.
Mr Tierney said the call by city councillors for an independent inquiry was inappropriate because it would add another layer to a democratic planning process culminating in an independent decision by An Bord Pleanála.
“Dublin City Council handles 4,000 applications a year, many of which are controversial,” he told Fine Gael councillor Paddy McCartan in a letter.
“Will the members now require an inquiry into every difficult decision to be made? There is already an independent process in place through An Bord Pleanála to deal with appeals against decisions of the city council and it demonstrates due diligence and fair process in action.”
Labour and Fine Gael councillors have questioned how the council granted planning permission for the scheme when the board later found it contravened the city development plan. In January, the board ruled against Mr Dunne’s plans for a 37-storey tower and seven other high-rise buildings in their entirety, saying they constituted a gross over-development of the site.
In a robust defence of his officials, Mr Tierney criticises councillors for questioning the integrity of the staff involved in the decision. He said the reason the council’s law agent was not consulted was because no matters of law arose in the application.
Mr Tierney said the divergence between the council and the board should not be misconstrued. High Court and Supreme Court judges frequently handed down radically different opinions on the same piece of law, he pointed out, and in the Ballsbridge case there was a divergence of opinion between the members of the board.
Mr McCartan said a material contravention of the city plan was a legal matter, and so the application should have been referred to the law agent. He accused planners of taking a “lax approach” which relied on the knowledge that the board would make the final decision.