Navan Co-Ownership -v- An Bord Plenala, [2016] IEHC 181 (2016)

Docket Number:2015 524JR
Party Name:Navan Co-Ownership, An Bord Plenala
 
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THE HIGH COURT

JUDICIAL REVIEW [2015 No. 524 J.R.]

IN THE MATTER OF SECTION 50 OF THE PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT ACT 2000, AS AMENDED

BETWEEN

NAVAN CO-OWNERSHIPAPPLICANTAND

AN BORD PLEANÁLARESPONDENTAND

MEATH COUNTY COUNCIL, SHOWTIME CINEMAS LIMITED, OMNIPLEX HOLDINGS, ALAN LATIMER, LIZ EGAN AND PAUL EGANNOTICE PARTIES

JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Brian J. McGovern delivered on the 12th day of April, 2016

  1. In these proceedings, the applicant seeks an order of certiorari quashing the decision of the respondent dated 30th July, 2015, refusing planning permission for a development of a cinema theatre complex at Navan, Co. Meath. The main thrust of the application concerns the respondent’s interpretation of section 4.5.3 of the Navan Development Plan 2009 – 2015. That section provides as follows:-

    “The long-term expansion of the town centre is envisaged towards the proposed central rail station. This area is currently characterised by underutilised industrial and commercial uses and benefits from extant permissions and an agreed Master Plan for a significant mixed use town centre development incorporating the reserved site as agreed with Iarnród Éireann for the future Navan Central Rail Station and railway line that is envisaged to be delivered as Part of Phase II of the Dublin-Navan railway line, a feature that must be maintained for possible future use. It provides for the creation of a new attraction poll (retail, business and an element of residential) around this central station, which together with the existing Shopping Centre will establish the broad axis in which most densification and mix of uses should occur.”

  2. On 3rd March, 2012, the first named notice party issued a Notification of Decision to grant planning permissions subject to nineteen conditions. The Notification of Decision to that planning permission was the subject of five third party appeals to the respondent. The first named notice party was invited to make observations. After setting out the relevant planning policies and zoning of the land, the notice party concluded “therefore the principle of development would be accepted as subject to normal planning considerations”.

  3. The board appointed a senior inspector to prepare a report on the appeal and, by order dated 30th July, 2015, the board refused planning permission for the following reason:-

    “Having regard to the location of the site remote from the established town centre of Navan, the isolated nature of the development as a consequence in a location that is currently poorly accessible and the creation of a development that would be primarily car-dependant, the prematurity and consequent piecemeal approach to development in the context of the orderly phased development of lands designated for future expansion of the town centre in accordance with the requirements of Navan Town Development Plan 2009 – 2015, and the prematurity of the development at this time in the context of the delivery of, and inter-relationship with, a central railway station in the vicinity of the site, it is considered that the proposed development would fail to consolidate the town centre, would fail to deliver any synergies with established town centre activities, and would conflict with retail policy RET DEV POL 2 as set out in the Navan Town Development Plan 2009 – 2015, which seeks ‘to protect and enhance the vitality of Navan Town Centre and promote this area as the main commercial core where an appropriate mix of commercial, retail, recreational, civic, cultural and residential uses are provided.’ The proposed development would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

  4. The inspector’s recommendation, subject to some minor amendments, was accepted by the respondent.

  5. The application for certiorari is grounded upon the following propositions:-

    (i) that the inspector erred in his interpretation of the Navan Development Plan 2009 – 2015, as varied, in particular section 4.5.3 thereof;

    (ii) that the inspector erred in his interpretation of the Navan Development Plan 2009 – 2015, as varied, in concluding at para. 6.3.2 of his report that the development of the lands, the subject matter of the planning application are “unquestionably linked to the development of the central rail station” and to conclude that the proposed development is premature;

    (iii) that the inspector erred in law in misinterpreting section 4.5.3 of the Navan Development Plan 2009 – 2015; and

    (iv) that the respondent erred in law in that it took into account irrelevant considerations and failed to take into account relevant considerations and failed to have any or any adequate regard to the development plan, properly interpreted.

    Issues

  6. The lands which are the subject matter of these proceedings were zoned “B1” in the Navan Development Plan 2009 – 2015 (“the development plan”) incorporating Variation No. 1 made on 19th May, 2014, in which such zoning was characterised as “Commercial / Town Centre”. A major point of disagreement between the parties to this application turns on the meaning of “Town Centre” and how this concept is understood having regard to Retail Development Policy No. 2 which states:-

    “To protect and enhance the vitality of Navan Town Centre and promote this area as the main commercial core where an appropriate mix of commercial, retail, recreation, civic, cultural and residential uses are provided.”

  7. The applicant contends that the respondent was in error to have found that...

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