29 Jan 2009
Is there something going around about a recent High Court decision which says you can’t have a material contravention to a Local Area Plan?

Here’s the scenario. It sometimes happens that the zoning designation for a site precludes development of a certain use which the zoning designation wasn’t really intended to preclude. For example, if an area in the centre of a village or town is zoned as ‘amenity’ and the list of permitted uses doesn’t specifically mention, say, a ‘community centre’ – even though no one would have any objection to the community centre being built in the amenity area – then the elected members of the council can institute a ‘material contravention’ procedure to allow the development to take place.

However, there’s something going around now that, because the Planning Act doesn’t specifically mention Local Area Plans in the relevant paragraph, the High Court has said that the ‘material contravention’ procedure only applies to County or Borough Development Plans, even though we all know that Local Area Plans are, in reality, a type of development plan.

If what they’re saying is true and the High Court has handed down such a decision (which, so far, I can’t find) does this mean that the many ‘material contraventions’ to Local Area Plans which have been implemented since the Planning Act was first introduced are now void?

I can’t really see how something like this would have come about unless some local authority somewhere brought a case to the High Court on the particular issue and, had that happened, I’m sure there would have been something about it in the newspapers. It sounds a little bit like something a local authority  might suddenly come up with because they want to block something from happening. 

Wednesday, February 04, 2009 9:24:06 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
would love to hear any updates on this?
Wednesday, February 04, 2009 10:02:55 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Sean, PJ Kelly from Kilrush is looking into it at the moment. He has excellent contacts in the Law Library. I'll contact him tomorrow for an update and post a comment here if there's any news.

Thursday, February 05, 2009 9:43:48 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I've interesting news for you, Sean. PJ Kelly has confirmed to me that the High Court has ruled that you CAN'T make a material contravention to a Local Area Plan. Can't. You can only make a material contravention to a Development Plan.

Sounds a bit like any material contraventions made since the passage of the Planning Act are null and void.
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