Tuesday 18 November 2008

City council 'negligent' in preventing demolition

DEVELOPER BERNARD McNamara and his company, Radora Developments Ltd, are standing over their court claim that Dublin City Council acted negligently and improperly in preventing the demolition of several 19th-century properties as part of a €40 million development at Merrion Road, Dublin.

The proceedings by Radora and Mr McNamara against the council were admitted to the Commercial Court yesterday after Mr Justice Peter Kelly clarified matters related to representation in the case of other parties, including individual councillors against whom serious allegations were made in an affidavit.

Because of the nature of the allegations, the judge had directed that the affected councillors and two residents' associations should be put on notice of the case.

The judge was told yesterday by Eamon Galligan SC, for Radora, that the claims of negligence and misfeasance in public office were being made against the council as a whole and not against individual councillors.

His side were standing over those claims, counsel said.

Mr Galligan also undertook to circulate a corrected affidavit on behalf of his clients withdrawing an incorrect claim in an earlier affidavit, which said that Cllr Michael Donnelly had voted for the listing of the properties when, in fact, he had abstained.

The judge directed Radora to pay Mr Donnelly's costs on a solicitor/own client basis, the highest level.

After being told that neither of the two local residents' associations nor any individual councillors named in the grounding affidavit in the case wished to be joined to the action as notice parties, the judge made directions for the exchange of legal documents in the case and fixed it for hearing on February 24th.

In the proceedings, Radora claims the council's decision of July 8th last to list the properties as protected structures was made for "an improper motive" and had exposed Radora to costs of some €750,000 a year to maintain the properties.

The registered properties, known as the Llandaff properties, are located at 207-223 Merrion Road beside the Tara Towers Hotel. They are part of a larger site bought for €10 million between 2002 and 2004.

The Tara Towers development, known as the Elm Park development, is being carried out by another McNamara company, Woodmead Ltd, and is substantially complete.

The Llandaff properties were acquired with a view to extending the Elm Park development.

Radora claims a number of councillors appeared to have been motivated by an improper motive to prevent the demolition of the structures without addressing the issue as to whether they were of special interest.

The decision registering the properties was made despite no evidence to support it and in the face of overwhelming evidence against it, including evidence from conservation experts for the council, it is claimed.

Radora further claims that the decision was taken against the opinion of the assistant city manager.

While Dublin City Council received submissions from local residents arguing for the properties to be listed as protected structures, Radora claims those submissions contained no expert evidence to support the claim that the properties were of special interest.

Radora's first planning application for the development was refused by the council and An Bord Pleanála in 2006.

Radora has since proposed a new development which requires the demolition of the Llandaff properties.

It claims the council's planning officials initially welcomed the proposed new development, but the subsequent decision to list the Llandaff properties means the planning application will be "futile".

The Irish Times


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