11 Feb 2009

Last week I referred to some chatter which was doing the rounds about a High Court ruling to the effect that you can’t 'materially contravene' a Local Area Plan. At the time I was sceptical about the gossip, thinking it was just the latest attempt by a local authority to frustrate some planning application or other. But from what I can make out it appears to be true. I haven’t read the document myself (does anyone know of an easy way to access High Court documents?) but speaking to others who themselves also haven’t read the ruling but who have spoken to others who may have, they say some sort of High Court action went down.

You see, the planning legislation specifically says that you can make a material contravention (a relatively easy procedure) to a Development Plan. However, it does not specifically say you can carry out the same procedure to a Local Area Plan. So the High Court has decided that LAPs cannot be materially contravened. This means it’s not lawful to make minor changes to a LAP by simple vote of the Council. In order to make any kind of change at all to a LAP, Local Authorities must now pursue the much lengthier procedure of modifying the Development Plan.

As we’re all aware, material contraventions have been carried out to Local Area Plans all over the Country in the past few years – two were implemented at the end of 2008 in County Clare alone. Presumably, these changes no longer have legal standing which means that development which took place on foot of their implementation should never have been allowed.

Solicitors facing redundancy because the of the property slump, your careers have just been jump restarted.

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