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Dundrum shopping centre owner challenges local area plan in High Court

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The owner of Dundrum Town Centre has issued High Court proceedings challenging the adoption of a contentious new local area plan.

Dundrum Retail GP DAC, which trades as Dundrum Retail Partnership, seeks orders quashing the plan made by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. Alternatively, it is asking the court to declare that changes proposed to the road infrastructure and junctions used by visitors to its shopping centre are invalid.

The Dundrum local area plan was voted on with amendments by elected council members at a special council meeting last October and came into effect on November 21st.

This followed widespread complaints from business owners and local residents, predominantly concerning proposed traffic restrictions. The plan proposes retaining and extending the one-way system on Main Street, which was initially introduced as a temporary measure.

The court case was mentioned before Ms Justice Niamh Hyland on Monday by solicitor Brendan Slattery, of McCann Fitzgerald law firm.

He told the court his client’s case is brought over the plan made by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

The judge agreed to note that the judicial review has been “opened” before the court to bring it within the required period. She adjourned the application for leave to a date in January.

The council, as the respondent, was not notified of the application or present in court.

In response to queries from The Irish Times, Dundrum Retail said it believes the council’s proposed changes will have a “significant damaging effect” on the Dundrum community.

A spokesman said that while there was limited stakeholder engagement on the plan, this occurred “with undue haste during the peak summer holiday period” of June 8th to July 21st, meaning affected stakeholders have not been able to adequately contribute to the planning process. This caused a street protest organised by concerned members of the local community.

The plan is based on a “flawed” area-based transport assessment that only considered weekday traffic patterns and gave insufficient weight to the importance of the Dundrum Town Centre, he said.

The company stressed it is “not alone” in its concerns, pointing to an Irish Times report that quoted a group of local business owners who alleged the plan will “kill off the village”.

“We acknowledge the council’s laudable wider aspirations in the development of the local area plan, particularly the elements connected to sustainability,” the spokesman said, adding that Dundrum Retail has invested significantly in improving the shopping centre’s energy efficiency and decarbonisation.

Hammerson and Allianz, the partners behind Dundrum Retail, have publicly committed to ambitious green targets, the spokesman added.

Dundrum Retail also owns the old Dundrum Shopping Centre on Main Street and various other properties in the local area.

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In its action, Dundrum Retail, with its registered office at Riverside One, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin, alleges the council’s decision to adopt the plan is invalid as it “uncritically adopted” transport recommendations that were completed before a draft of the plan was published for public consultation.

The council failed to approach the matter with an open mind and the decision is “vitiated by prejudgement”, the company claims.

Furthermore, it alleges the council failed to properly consider the strategic function and importance of Dundrum Town Centre within the council area and beyond. There was also an alleged failure to ensure the plan is consistent with the “retail strategy for the Greater Dublin Area”, which designates Dundrum as a “level 2- major town centre”, second only to the city centre in priority, it says.

Dundrum Retail claims the council did not consider the needs of all road users, including those requiring cars to access the shopping centre which attracts more than 14 million visitors per year and employs more than 5,000 people.

The firm is asking the court to find that protective cost provisions of section 50B of the Planning and Development Act apply to its case.

At the special meeting to approve the plan last October, the council’s chief executive Frank Curran said the plan allows for quality housing, a new library and civic centre, a new park, a new school and better public transport to meet the needs of a growing population.

It is evidence of “best practice” transport planning that maximises carbon reduction and enhances the public realm, he said.

In a statement last month, the council said the plan includes significantly boosted bus services, as well as new and improved pedestrian and cycle facilities.

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