Judicial review under way into ministerial decision on Carnbane Way development

May 18, 2015

A judicial review launched by Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade against Environment Minister Mark Durkan’s decision to approve a major mixed-use development at Carnbane Way in the city got underway last week.

In May last year, Minister Mark H Durkan granted planning permission to developers, The Hill Partnership, to build 70 industrial and business units, a supermarket, 14 homes, a coffee shop and associated car parking and landscaping on a site at Carnbane Way.

Opposing the scheme, Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade claimed the development would have a detrimental effect on city centre investment and launched a High Court bid to have it stopped.

Counsel for the Newry Chamber told the court last Tuesday that they believe the Minister’s decision was legally flawed and that approval for the multi-million pound project was given despite the department not properly meeting Environmental Impact Assessment regulations.

The lawyers also submitted an alleged failure by the Department of Environment to comply with the Habitats Regulations in considering the potential effects of any pollution of Newry River and Canal.

Opening the application for a judicial review, William Orbinson QC told the judge that the full extent of the proposals were not advertised and set out how the proposed development includes a new bridge over the river.  Mr Orbinson said the bridge issue was significant both from an ecological and planning permission aspect and said it was not referred to in any description of the development or advertisement.

Further grounds of challenge to the ministerial decision centred on an alleged failure to refer the matter to the Stormont Executive.

According to Mr Orbinson it should have gone before the power-sharing administration as a “significant or controversial matter”.

When granting planning permission last year, Mr Durkan said he was satisfied the existing city centre retail offering was strong enough to compete with the new development and that the development would generate jobs and an economic boost for the area.

The Newry Chamber of Commerce have argued however that the Department of the Environment wrongly concluded the development would not damage city centre investment and acted irrationally in the weight it gave to economic benefits.

The case continues.