A Kildare developer has been granted permission by the High Court to challenge a decision of the Minister for Housing to direct a change to a local area plan for Celbridge in Kildare.
Longport Developments, which involves well known businessman, Damien Donegan, wants to build on a nine-hectare site at Crodaun, to the north of the town, near the M4 entrance.
It is arguing that the the Minister was wrong in directing the zoning for its land be amended from residential to open space/amenity.
The Ministerial direction, issued under the Planning and Development Act 2000, also required Kildare County Council to delete a strategic open space zoning for an area of land at Donaghcumper and insert a "town centre" zoning instead. Both amendments apply to the Celbridge local plan 2017-23.
The Minister said the change to the draft local plan, which was made by county councillors against the advice of the Council's chief executive, was not consistent with 2007 guidelines for development plans and was in breach of the Planning and Development Act 2000.
The regulations require there must be a sequential approach to zoning for new houses where lands spatially closest to the town core and public transport facilities are prioritised, the Minister told the Council.
The Crodaun zoning effectively doubled the amount of housing land in this area, the Minister said.
The Minister also said the Council had ignored or not taken sufficient account of submissions he (the Minister) made early last year following the publication of the local plan.
On Monday, senior counsel for Longport, said argued the Minister was incorrect in saying the Council had ignored his submissions. They would also be arguing, among other things, the Minister should have given reasons for why he believed an open space zoning was appropriate for the Crodaun lands.
Mr Justice Seamus Noonan granted leave to bring judicial proceedings against the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, and against the Minister for State at that department, along with Kildare County Council and the State.
The judge also gave leave for the proceedings to be served on the owners of the Donaghcrumper lands, Devondale Ltd, after counsel said they could be affected by the matter.
The application has been adjourned until March.
The Longport decision will be welcomed by groups opposed to the Ministers. A number of parties, including Cllr Anthony Larkin, have taken advice on the taking a case against the Minister but the cost of that has been seen as prohibitive.