High Court grants leave for judicial review of Limerick development

Michelle Hayes, solicitor for Hilcroft Residents Association, and president of Environmental Trust Ireland

THE HIGH Court has granted leave for Judicial Review against the decision of An Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission for 54 residential units primarily in apartment blocks in a backland greenfield site off St Patrick’s Road in Limerick.

The High Court application was brought by Hillcroft Close Residents Association and others who are directly impacted by the proposed development, where Ms Justice Farrell made an order granting leave for judicial review on all the grounds advanced by the applicants.

The developer, Michael Murphy Homes Ltd, applied to Limerick City and County Council for planning permission, which was refused on a number of grounds. The developer appealed the refusal to An Bord Pleanála.

The planning authority inspector recommended refusal of permission, after which the board overruled its own inspector and granted permission.

According to Michelle Hayes, solicitor for the residents and president of Environmental Trust Ireland, access to the site would be through a cul de sac with the existing green area where children play used by construction traffic. The boundary wall, she says, would be demolished, instead of direct road access from St Patrick’s Road.

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“This will involve disrupting and tearing the heart out of this residential community and destroying the green play area, which is to be used for construction traffic access and turning.

“It would seriously impact on the residential amenity of the residents and pose a serious traffic and construction hazard to the residents and their children,” she commented.

Ms Hayes went on to say that are also adverse impacts on mature hedgerows, trees, and wildlife, including the presence of bats, as well as a  failure to conduct ecological assessments and surveys of the habitats to be removed.

“The proposed development would also constitute piecemeal development of a backland site where there is no masterplan for development in the area and the development  is clearly premature.”

In their Court application, the Hillcroft Close residents argued the development would have involved several breaches of the Limerick City and County Council Development Plan, incompatibility with the provisions of the EU Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, failure to comply with the provisions of the Habitats Directive, and would have a very severe adverse effect on residential amenity, including traffic safety hazards for children, loss of open green space, habitats, and protected species.

The local authority considered that the construction traffic through Hillcroft would adversely affect residential amenity and result in traffic congestion.

The local authority inspector recommended refusal and stated: “It is considered that the proposed access for construction traffic through the existing Hill Croft development, having regard to the alignment and layout of this mature estate, would adversely affect the residential amenity of existing residents and result in traffic congestion.”

The developer appealed to An Bord Pleanála and its inspector recommended refusal but the board overturned its own inspector and granted permission of the planning permission, which is now the subject of High Court judicial review proceedings.