For the first time An Bord Pleanála‎ has awarded a planning appellant expenses under Section 145 Planning and Development Act 2000 in a case to be paid by Galway County Coucil to the appellant.

One of the most unfair features of the Irish planing system is the manner in which anyone taking an appeal to An Bord Pleanála and securing the overturn of an inappropriate local authority decision, may have to deal with a repeat application and permission grant by the local Council and bear the cost of a second or more appeals.

Although there is a Provision under Section 145 Planing and Development Acts 2000 by which An Bord Pleanála can require the local authority to pay the appellant for the expenses of the appeal, the Board has until recently consistency refused expenses applications

However An Bord Pleanála has for the first time granted third party costs of an appeal to an appellant in a case in Co Galway withing the last month. The Board in refusing a repeat application for the retention of unauthorized development of larges gate piers and gates at a highly sensitive coastal location at Keeraun Beg, Carroroe Galway Co Co ref 12/1394 An Bord Pleanála re 242436 ref granted expenses to the local appellant who was represented by Peter Sweetman

An identical retention application has previously been refused by the Board Galway Co Co ref 11/777 Board ref 239355. The the grounds of refusal of on the previous retention application were:

  1. ‘The site is located in a scenic coastal area that is classified as an area of high landscape value in the Galway County Development Plan, 2009-2015. The development plan also contains policies to protect the amenity of the coastal zone, including the protection of the character of boreens that lead to the foreshore. Having regard to the pattern of development in the area, and to the excessive scale and design of the pillars and gates proposed for retention, it is considered that the proposed development, would be out of character with the pattern of development in the area, would seriously injure the amenities of the area and would conflict with the policies of the said development plan. Furthermore, it is considered that to permit the development would set an undesirable precedent for proliferation of other similar entrance features that would cumulatively erode the character of the landscape in the area. The proposed development would, therefore be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

  2. The Galway County Development Plan, 2009-2015 includes a policy to:

prohibit the intrusion of development along public walking routes and public rights of way. On the basis of the information submitted, the Board is not satisfied that the proposed development, owing to the location of the piers and gates for which retention permission is sought, would not interfere with orderly access to the nearby public pier and would not interfere with the safety and convenience of road users at this location. The proposed development would constitute a disorderly approach to development, would conflict with the policies of the said development plan, and would, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area’.

While this case did not relate to a large scale development it is significant in location sensitivity and the strong terms of the An Bord Pleanala refusal on the first and second retention applications. The manner in which Galway County County Council accommodated a repeat retention application for the retention of this unauthorised development raises the most profound questions on its competence as planning authority.

This case should encourage appellants to more actively pursue expenses recovery in future An Bord Pleanála refusals.

Ian Lumley