THE OWNERS of a landmark former church building near Croke Park had the law on their side when they began demolition work on it three years ago, the High Court has ruled.
Mr Justice John MacMenamin said the consequence of his decision, that partial demolition work on the former Methodist Church on Jones’s Road did not require planning permission, would be its entire demolition. He has adjourned making specific orders for two weeks.
He was giving his reserved judgment upholding a challenge by Co Mayo businessman John Healy to decisions by Dublin City Council and An Bord Pleanála that the demolition work on the building was not exempted development.
Mr Healy, with Adrian McNally, Liam Healy and Sham Rudden Abehim, bought the building in January 2007. It had been used for commercial purposes for a number of years and the purchasers planned to redevelop it.
While conscious the church was a local landmark, a familiar point of reference for Croke Park patrons, and that his decision may annoy and frustrate local residents, it was the duty of the court to uphold the law, he said.
Mr Justice MacMenamin noted the building had no architectural, archaeological, environmental or scientific designation and was not identified as a protected structure in the city development plan 2005-2011. Before they bought it, the partners examined the legal status of the property and were satisfied there were no restrictions on its demolition, the judge said.
Regulations introduced in 2008 around the same time as the demolition work was carried out did not come into force in time to save this building. This was a single integrated development which started before the regulations came in, he ruled. Therefore it must be treated as what it was at the outset, an exempted development.