Saturday, 22 December 2007

Dunne loses DDDA records case

Property developer Seán Dunne has lost a High Court bid to compel the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) to provide him with certain documents for his legal challenge relating to a €200 million development on the city's north quays.

In Commercial Court proceedings, Mr Dunne is seeking an order quashing the DDDA's decision that the project is exempted development and argues that it should be subject to particular conditions.

The action has been taken by Mr Dunne and North Wall Property Holding Company Ltd, with registered offices in the Isle of Man, against the DDDA and a company called North Quay Investments Ltd, a company controlled by rival developer Liam Carroll.

The DDDA has entered into an agreement with North Quay Investments to develop a site bounded by North Wall Quay, New Wapping Street, Mayor Street and Castleforbes Road.

Construction work is already underway. Mr Dunne's property is surrounded on three sides by the project. In his action, Mr Dunne claims the DDDA was wrong to conclude the project does not require planning permission. He claims the development does not comply with the Docklands North Lotts planning scheme, including the objective of providing an east-west route between New Wapping Street and Castleforbes Street.

The proposed mix of uses, height and design of the development is also inconsistent with the planning scheme, Mr Dunne claims. A "monolithic" eight storey apartment block proposed to the immediate eastern boundary of his property has no regard for these and other issues in the planning scheme, he claims.

The case was first before the Commercial Court on December 10th last and yesterday a lawyer for Mr Dunne applied for discovery of all records and documents relating to the decision taken by the DDDA on this project. Garrett Simons SC, for Mr Dunne, said the application had become necessary because, since the case first came before the court, an agreement between the DDDA and North Quay Investments made on May 31st last had come to Mr Dunne's attention. Mr Dunne was also seeking to amend his claim against the DDDA.

Michael Cush SC, for the DDDA, opposed the discovery application saying his clients had already co-operated with Mr Dunne. Counsel added that his side was not opposing the application to amend the claim.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said applications for discovery in judicial review cases like this were very limited and the case had already been dealt with quickly and had a hearing date in the Commercial Court on January 22nd next. He believed Mr Dunne and the company could "do no better" than refer to the terms of the new agreement on May 31st, of which they now have possession, in terms of discovery of documents.

He refused the application for discovery but said the claim could be amended.

He also awarded costs to the DDDA for the hearing of yesterday's application for discovery.

The proceedings brought by Mr Dunne and North Wall Property Holdings, in relation to whether it is exempted development, arises out of a certificate issued by the DDDA under Section 25 of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority Act 1997.

A second set of proceedings - brought under Section 160 of the Planning and Development Act 1960 - seeks orders restraining alleged unauthorised works at the site of the disputed development and an order requiring restoration of the lands.

According to court documents, development has already begun on the site with some €15 million spent to date by North Quay Investments. The company has expressed concern that the uncertainty caused by the proceedings had the potential to have serious adverse economic consequences for it.

The Irish Times

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