Re: Re: Cork Harbour

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This morning’s IT:

Refusal of development objection overturned

The High Court has overturned An Bord Pleanála’s refusal to accept that a local group of objectors had lodged a valid appeal against a proposed development of 150 apartments, a marina and car park in Cobh, Co Cork.

Mr Justice John MacMenamim said the board’s objection to accepting the appeal as valid was “essentially technical”.

The board had said the appeal dated January 19th, 2005, and lodged on behalf of the Holy Ground and Environs Action Group, was invalid because it had not been accompanied, as required by the Planning and Development Act 2000, by “an appropriate acknowledgment”.

The board argued the only appropriate acknowledgment was a letter to the group from Cobh Town Council dated November 30th, 2004, the first of three letters to the group from the council.

The appeal was in fact accompanied by the third letter from the council to the group, dated January 11th 2005, in which the council, which had granted permission for the proposed development on December 16th 2004, acknowledged receipt of the group’s communications relating to the application for planning permission.

Cobh Town Council’s second letter was sent on December 17th, 2004.

The planning board’s refusal of January 26th, 2005, to accept that the group had lodged a valid appeal, was challenged in judicial review proceedings by Margaret Murphy, described as a member of the action group.

In his reserved judgment granting Ms Murphy’s challenge, Mr Justice MacMenamin noted a “curious procedure” by Cobh Town Council in using “minuscule font size or typeface” only for the purpose of dating its letters. This unusual date procedure had not been explained, he said.

The dating procedure of the letters from the council to the group was “unwittingly” a “trap to the unwary”, especially in view of the general similarity of the letters in layout and in substance, although there were some distinctions.

The letter of January 11th, 2005, sent by the group to the board was given within time and included the relevant information necessary for the board to proceed.

There was no prejudice to the board, he held.

Earlier, Mr Justice MacMenamin said the proposed development at Connolly Street, Cobh, was in the area well known as “the Holy Ground”.

It was an extensive development, consisting of a marina, 150 apartments in blocks of two and three storeys, a six-storey apartment building, commercial units and a car park.

He said the members of the action group objected to the development on grounds of its impact on the local environment, a risk of landslides, ecological aspects and alleged destruction of views of Cobh Harbour from a number of different vantage points.

Ms Murphy lived with her parents in close proximity to the location of the intended development.

© The Irish Times

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