Monday, 1 March 2010

DDDA planning permissions to be scrutinised

Decisions by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) to grant planning permission to a number of projects are likely to be scrutinised following the publication of reports into the authority’s activities in the coming weeks.

The DDDA has accumulated losses of some €230 million as a result of the collapse in the value of property developments in which it was involved. In particular, it has been criticised for its involvement in the purchase of the Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend, which was bought for €400 million but is now worth an estimated €50 million.

However, The Sunday Business Post understands that other aspects of the agency’s activities as a planning authority for the docklands area are also likely to be investigated.

In particular, the practice of granting planning permission for developments while land or other assets were ceded to the agency has been cited by informed sources as one area of interest.

In 2008, the High Court overturned a decision of the DDDA to grant a certificate exempting developer Liam Carroll from planning permission. The judge cited a side agreement between Carroll and the agency, under which Carroll would give a site to the DDDA if he was granted the planning exemption. The judge ruled that the agreement could give rise to ‘‘a reasonable apprehension of bias’’ in the granting of the certificate.

The reports into planning and financial procedures at the DDDA are also expected to be critical of the authority. If further agreements such as the one with Carroll are revealed, it could open the agency to legal action. ‘‘We need to ensure that work in areas such as Section 25 certificates is done properly in the future," said environment minister John Gormley in the Dáil last week. He said that he hoped to publish the DDDA reports soon.

Gormley was criticised by the former Green senator Deirdre de Bu¤ rca for not acting on the Docklands reports.

Sunday Business Post

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