Tuesday 15 April 2008

Firms oppose €19.5m social housing liability claim

A DEVELOPER and a construction company have denied claims by South Dublin County Council that they have failed to meet social and affordable housing obligations valued at €19.5 million in relation to a major Tallaght development.

Durkan New Homes (DNH), Sandford Road, Ranelagh, and construction company Hollioake Land Ltd, Cashel Road, Crumlin, are facing proceedings relating to a completed development of 745 houses at The Belfry, Blessington Road, Tallaght. The case was admitted to the Commercial Court yesterday by Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

The council contends the planning permission granted in 2003 for the development imposed an obligation on the defendants to enter into agreements under part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 relating to social and affordable housing.

The council says a part V agreement normally results in a "planning gain" to the planning authority as a developer is required to transfer land, sites or houses, or make a financial payment.

The council says the planning gain due to it under the planning permission is in excess of €19.5 million and it wants an order requiring the defendants to enter into an agreement under part V or pay damages in lieu of that.

It claims that before the decision to grant permission, the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2002 was enacted and that removed any discretion on the part of the council as to whether a part V agreement should be enacted on the date of the granting of permission.

In seeking yesterday to have the case admitted to the Commercial Court, with a view to having it speedily decided, the defendants rejected the council's claims and denied that the planning permission imposed an obligation to enter into a part V agreement.

DNH also claims the existence of the €19.5 million claim has serious commercial implications and had led to deferral of the company's restructuring plans, and it was therefore anxious to have the case determined speedily.

The council, in addition to its legal proceedings, had referred the matter to An Bord Pleanála and DNH is disputing the board's jurisdiction in the matter.

In an affidavit, Neil Durkan of DNH said the company had carried out development on part of the lands in question on the basis there was no requirement for a part V agreement. He said the lands were bought in December 2001 in the name of Hollioake but in 50 per cent trust for DNH.

After planning permission was granted in 2003, DNH and Hollioake developed the lands at issue and, before the council's action being taken, had implemented the permission and sold the individual units to various purchasers.

The council was prevented from now arguing the permission was subject to part V obligations as it had agreed to the sale of the individual units, he said.

The Irish Times


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