THE MINISTER for the Environment failed to engage in any adequate consultation with local landowners before issuing directions overturning the designation of The Park Village lands in Carrickmines as a “district centre”, it has been claimed before the Commercial Court.
A district centre allows for a development with considerably more retail floorspace than a “neighbourhood centre”, a designation preferred by Mr Gormley.
A neighbourhood centre involves a development of small groups of small shops of a local nature serving a small, localised catchment population.
Tristor Ltd, which wants to develop The Park Village as a district centre has claimed the Minister’s directions, unless quashed, will cost 1,500 jobs – 700 jobs in construction of the scheme and 800 jobs in the completed scheme.
In opposing Tristor’s challenge, the Minister has said he issued the directions because the draft development plan for the area did not comply with the Planning and Development Act 2000, in that it failed to set out an overall strategy for the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
Because of that “significant failure” to comply with the 2000 Act, including failure to comply with the Greater Dublin Area Retail Strategy, Mr Gormley said he issued directions requiring Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to amend the plan. He also denied claims by Tristor that he had misinterpreted his role.
Mr Justice Frank Clarke yesterday began hearing a “telescoped” action in which he is asked to determine Tristor’s application for leave to bring a judicial review challenge to the directions in tandem with the substantive hearing of the case.
Tristor, with registered offices at the Herbert Building, The Park, Carrickmines, has brought the proceedings against the Minister, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Ireland and the Attorney General.
The case was outlined to the court by Eamon Galligan SC, for Tristor, and is expected to run for four days. Mr Galligan said his client accepted the council had no choice but to act in accordance with the Minister’s directions and the hearing was essentially aimed at overturning the directions.
The Minister was contending that the designation of the lands as a district centre did not set out a “proper strategy” for sustainable development of the area, but there was no requirement in section 31 of the Planning Act 2000 for a “proper strategy”, Mr Galligan said. Instead, the Act required an “overall strategy”.
The Minister’s direction was issued to the council on March 9th this year and required it to delete the council’s earlier decision designating and zoning the Park lands at Carrickmines as a district centre in the council’s draft development plan 2010-2016.
Mr Gormley instructed the council to delete the district centre designation and to revert to the previous zoning objective of the Dún Laoghaire County Development Plan 2004-2010. That provided for a neighbourhood centre development at Carrickmines to provide for economic development and employment.
Tristor owns 3.14 hectares of lands at The Park Village and those lands make up the majority of the designated lands with a letable retail space of some 25,000 square metres.
It secured planning permission in April 2008 from the council for a mixed-use development on those lands of some 88,790 square metres of mixed, retail, office, leisure and residential uses.
Tristor claims its planning permission cannot be implemented until the dispute over the Minister’s decision is resolved.
Tristor also claims some 1,500 jobs are threatened and, while a major retail anchor tenant was already committed to its proposed village development, other potential tenants were refusing to commit themselves because of the uncertainty.