Halting site house plan faces new court challenge

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Three men have been given permission to challenge a decision by Wicklow County Council to not build three houses for them and their families beside a halting site outside Wicklow Town.

The High Court was told that John, Michael and William Connors are living with their families “in appalling conditions” on a vacant site next to the Ballinteskin halting site outside Wicklow Town.

Since 2014, there has been a proposal to build Traveller-specific homes adjacent to the site.

The court was told that the council decided not to proceed with building the houses after the council was told that there was an alleged agreement with local residents not to expand the halting site since 1996.

A final decision on the project would have been taken following a vote by councillors but the council itself decided not to proceed before that stage.

executive of the council took a decision not to proceed despite it being a mandatory requirement of the process

Counsel for the three men said provision was made for the families in the council’s 2014-18 accommodation programme and continued in the draft 2019 programme. A process was begun this year where the plan was put out for submissions from members of the public before those submissions would come before the council CEO, who would prepare a response and a report for councillors who would then consider it, counsel said.

However, in this case no report was made and the executive of the council took a decision not to proceed despite it being a mandatory requirement of the process, counsel said. The decision appeared to have been taken on April 12 on the basis that in 1996 there was a purported agreement with local residents that the Ballinteskin halting site would not be expanded, counsel said.

Even if there was such an agreement, it was not enforceable because, counsel said, it was their view that the duty to provide this accommodation cannot be fettered and because this was not an expansion of the halting site but a housing development beside it.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan granted leave to bring judicial review proceedings following the one side only represented application.

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