Sunday 14 December 2008

Dunne to press ahead with demolition bid

DEVELOPER SEÁN Dunne has made clear to the High Court that he is pressing ahead with his bid to have an €83 million rival development on Dublin's north quays demolished following a court decision that the rival development was built on foot of an unlawful planning certificate.

That court decision last October sounded the "death knell" for the planning certificate, Garret Simons SC, for Mr Dunne's North Wall Property Holding Company, argued yesterday. He urged the court to make a simple and unconditional order quashing the certificate as invalid from the time it was issued in summer 2007.

However, the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) and developer Liam Carroll's North Quay Investments Ltd (NQI) - whose development is the one at risk - appealed to the court to make a form of order in the case which would assist them in making arguments at a future hearing that the development should remain in place.

Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan reserved her decision on the exact form of order to be made and on who should pay NQI's costs. The DDDA accepts it must pay Mr Dunne's costs arising from his successful challenge to the certificate of permission for the development but argues it should not have to pay NQI's costs.

An application by NQI for retention permission for its development is being heard by the planning authority while separate proceedings in which Mr Dunne wants an order to tear down the development are for mention in the High Court in early January.

It is understood that if retention permission is granted, Mr Dunne intends to appeal that decision to An Bord Pleanála.

Yesterday's court applications arose from Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan's judgment in October that the DDDA acted unlawfully and outside its powers in how it granted "fast-track" permission for the NQI development on the former Brooks Thomas site at North Wall quay. The development is valued at some €200 million, including the €83 million building at risk.

The DDDA later said it was not appealing that judgment. A separate challenge by the Spencer Dock Development Company related to the same NQI development was subsequently settled.

Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan heard submissions as to the form of order to be made in Mr Dunne's proceedings as a result of her decision.

Michael Collins SC, for NQI, said if the court did make an order quashing as invalid the section 29 planning certificate for the NQI development, it should grant an accompanying order that the finding of invalidity should apply retrospectively. He said the development should be considered exempt development up to the date of the High Court decision.

Mr Collins said Mr Dunne was adopting an "absolutist position" in the matter which the court should reject. If that position was correct, it would drop "a nuclear bomb" on all administrative decisions. It could not have been the legislature's intent that buildings half or fully built should be put at naught. If that was the case, no developer would "turn a sod" on the docklands.

Irish Times

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