Monday 18 June 2007

Lansdowne shadow looms

RESIDENTS living in the shadow of the Lansdowne Road stadium will learn today whether their objection to its redevelopment will be fast-tracked through the courts.

A decision by the judge to allow the case to be heard through the Commercial Court will significantly speed up its hearing, but will also increase legal costs for residents.

Dublin 4 residents launched two separate legal actions earlier this year calling for a judicial review of the planning permission for the €365m project.

Last week, Lansdowne Road Stadium Development Company (LRSDC) succeeded in having one case transferred into the big business division of the High Court, where cases take an average of just nine weeks to deal with, despite objections from the residents who took the case.

The LRSDC sought the move after claiming any delay to the project could cost up to €1.2m a month.

The second case was not admitted on the same day because the LRSDC had not given adequate notice to all the residents involved. However, Justice Peter Kelly said he would consider admitting it today.

Set up in 2004, the Commercial Court is the fastest court in the land, but its procedures can be extremely demanding and expenses can rack up very quickly.

A number of local residents were in court last Monday to urge the judge not to admit the case to the commercial list, while representatives for the LRSDC, Dublin City Council and An Bord Pleanala said they were in favour of the transfer.

The first case was brought by locals Brian O'Keeffe and Rosemarie Loftus of Lansdowne Road, who want the decision granting permission for the demolition of the existing stadium and the construction of a multimillion-euro purpose stadium quashed. They will also be seeking a stay on the works until the final determination of their challenge. In the proceedings against An Bord Pleanala, the couple claim that the board failed to address the impact of the development on their property rights.

The second broader case - which may be admitted to the Commercial Court today - was brought by Kevin McMahon and Mariaelena Byrne of O'Connell Gardens, Sandymount, Dublin, and also looks to quash the stadium's planning permission. The case is more complex because it also argues that certain sections of the Planning and Development Act 2000 are incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights in failing to provide for compensation where property is devalued by implementation of the planning permission. Last month an agreement was reached between stadium developers and local residents on compensation. The total cost of the deal agreed by the council and those redeveloping the 50,000 seater stadium is €2.44m. The fund "for householders in the vicinity of the new stadium, to cover inconvenience and disturbance" will see 14 households receive a total of €1.68m.

A further eight households are in line for a lump sum of €32,500 each, while an extra fund of €500,000 has now also been established for other householders in the area. Those who believe they have been negatively affected by the project will be able to submit a claim.

Edel Kennedy
Irish Independent

No comments: