An Bord Pleanála rules out reopening Hyde planning files

Minister to receive report on former deputy chairman of board

An Bord Pleanála has ruled out any move to reopen planning files decided by its former deputy chairman Paul Hyde, saying it has no power to consider settled cases again.

Mr Hyde’s work and personal declarations are under scrutiny in a barrister’s inquiry for Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien and an internal review by the planning authority, which are scheduled to wrap up within days.

Although Mr Hyde has denied any impropriety, the possibility of adverse conclusions being handed down has raised concern in the Government about reputational damage to An Bord Pleanála and legal cases being taken against decisions involving Mr Hyde.

Regardless of what findings are made, An Bord Pleanála has insisted in recent correspondence with up to 20 people who contacted the appeals body with concerns about decisions Mr Hyde made, and urging it to reopen the files, that it has no legal scope to revisit settled cases.


“[W]hile An Bord Pleanála can examine or review cases decided by it, this examination cannot result in An Bord Pleanála changing the nature of any such completed decisions,” the authority said in replies to such complaints.

The substance of the claims remains unclear, although some relate to files in which construction work arising from the board’s decision is complete. Still, the planning board told complainants it does not have the authority to reconsider finished cases.

“Once An Bord Pleanála has signed and sealed its order setting out its decision in any particular case, it has no statutory or legal authority to change the substance of any such decision so made by it,” it said.

Mr Hyde resigned little more than a fortnight ago amid investigations into claims of impropriety in certain planning decisions and his personal declarations to An Bord Pleanála. He had stepped aside temporarily without prejudice to the inquiries.

He did not disclose an interest last year in an appeal taken by his sister-in-law but said he did not know she was the appellant or that the case related to a Dublin 4 property she co-owns with his brother.

Such issues are in focus as senior counsel Remy Farrell prepares to submit a report by Friday to Mr O’Brien. His findings will be sent for review to Attorney General Paul Gallagher, raising the prospect of delays before they are made public. The Minister reserved the right to publish the report, not publish it or release it with redactions. A separate examination by An Bord Pleanála is also nearing conclusion.

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times