Parents challenge planning for Dublin homes over concerns about lack of childcare

Friends of the Phoenix Park says it is aware of ‘severe housing crisis’ and not opposed to development

Permission for 106 homes near Phoenix Park is the target of a High Court challenge initiated by a group of parents who say they are concerned the development will exacerbate the lack of childcare provision in the area.

The Friends of the Phoenix Park, a collection of parents living around Chapelizod, north Dublin, say their children attended the ‘Magic Moments’ childcare facility located on the site of the proposed build, off Chapelizod Road, before it closed in June 2023.

An Bord Pleanála gave the go-ahead last January for developer Linders of Smithfield’s plan for 96 apartments and 10 duplex units. Dublin City Council had earlier granted permission, subject to conditions.

The parent group’s director, accountant Darragh Walsh of Belgrove Park, Chapelizod, said people supporting it are not opposed to housing development in the area, and many are “young people who are aware of the severe housing crisis which is affecting many of our peers”.


However, he said in an affidavit, housing developments must meet the requirements of the local development plan, including providing social services that are necessary for a sustainable community.

He said Magic Moments provided a “significant number” of places and was an “integral” part of the Chapelizod community. Since it closed, in anticipation of the development, parents have had to resort to using providers in “widely scattered and inconvenient locations”, many of which are non-registered childminders, Mr Walsh added.

He said there remains just one over-subscribed, full-time provider in Chapelizod village.

The group is also concerned about the impact the proposed scheme could have on the Chapelizod and Environs Architectural Conservation Area. The development plan requires new development to be sympathetic to the features of a setting designated as an architectural conservation area, Mr Walsh added.

Friends of the Phoenix Park has cited several domestic and European legal points in its judicial review challenge to An Bord Pleanála’s approval.

It claims the decision contravenes density provisions set out in the Dublin city Development Plan and the board legally erred by concluding otherwise.

The board also misinterpreted the plan’s requirement that a childcare facility must be provided for every 75 homes built in new residential schemes, the group alleges.

Further, it claims the board failed to indicate that the project is within an architectural conservation area, in breach of an article of 2001 planning regulations. Contrary to the EU’s Habitats Diretive, the board wrongly found that the developer did not need to conduct a particular environmental assessment as part of its planning application, the group alleges.

The case recently came before the High Court, when Mr Justice Richard Humphreys permitted the applicant, represented by Stephen Dodd SC, to pursue its case.

Barrister Aoife Carrol, for the developer, which is a notice party in the action against An Bord Pleanála, told the court her client is anxious to secure an early hearing date for the case. The matter is due to return to court next week.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter