High Court Provides Guidance On Planning Applications Within A Strategic Development Zone

Author:Ms Fiona O'Neill

A recent judgement of the High Court has given important insight into the rules governing planning applications for developments within a Strategic Development Zone (SDZ).

Justice Haughton quashed a decision by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (DLR) to refuse planning permission to O'Flynn Capital Partners (OFCP) for the construction of a large residential development at Cabinteely, Dublin 18. Access to the development would be provided via a road called the Druids Glen Road which would link with a planned signalised junction on the N11. The proposed Druids Glen Road crossed OFCP's lands and two adjoining landowners properties and once completed would also provide critical access to the remainder of the SDZ.

As part of their application, OFCP sought permission to construct the section of the Druids Glen Road located on its land. This small piece of land, which fell within an SDZ was the main bone of contention between the two parties. In a lengthy judgement, Justice Haughton set out multiple reasons for his decision to overturn DLR's decision but in particular his guidance on planning applications for lands within an SDZ will be of interest to many developers and landowners.

The concept of a Strategic Development Zone

SDZs were introduced in May 2015 by Part IX of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (the Act). Under Section 166 of the Act, following consultation with the relevant development agency or planning authority, the Minister for Environment or Local Government may designate an area as an SDZ "to facilitate" development "of economic and strategic importance to the State". Following designation of an SDZ, a draft planning scheme (Planning Scheme) is prepared setting out how the site should be developed. The Planning Scheme goes through a series of assessments and public consultation before being adopted and may be appealed to An Bord Pleanala. Once a site falls under the remit of the Planning Scheme, section 170 of the Act deals with how a planning application must be determined and in particular Section 170(2) provides as follows:

"Subject to the provisions of Part X or Part XAB, or both of those Parts as appropriate, a planning authority shall grant permission in respect of an application for a development in a strategic development zone where it is satisfied that the development, where carried out in accordance with the application or subject to any conditions which the planning authority may attach to a permission, would...

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