Case Note: `Substantial Interest` Requirement for Judicial Review of Planning Decisions


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The Supreme Court of Ireland recently considered the criteria by which a person may be said to have a 'substantial interest' (which is the statutory requirement) in a planning matter which is sufficient to allow that person to bring judicial review proceedings. Although the Court went some way towards clarifying an important issue in Irish planning and development law, it did not spell out a detailed set of criteria for future applications and its approach to the issue indicates an overly restrictive view of the scope of locus standi in planning cases, raising concerns about the denial of relief where a procedural error occurs but no-one who is directly affected comes forward (although this may not be a common issue in practice).


Mr Harding, the plaintiff and appellant, is a retired sailor and merchant seaman who has lived in the town of Kinsale, on the coast of County Cork, for his entire life. He grew up in the area of Ballymacus, and lives some three kilometres from it. Members of his family live there now. The notice party, Xces or Kinsale Harbour Developments (KHD), applied for planning permission to construct a substantial hotel, golf and leisure resort at Ballymacus Head and Preghane Point, at the entrance to Kinsale Harbour. Mr Harding is opposed to this development and participated in the planning process, objecting to the application.

Planning permission was granted to Xces/KHD on 1 October 2005. Rather than apply to An Bord Pleanala, the statutory planning appeals board, for an appeal against this decision, Mr Harding applied to the High Court for leave to apply for judicial review. This was refused by Clarke J on 12 October 2006, finding that the applicant did not have the necessary 'substantial interest' under the Planning and Development Act 2000, s. 50.

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