Court rules that Israeli embassy office does not need a building permit

The High Court overturned a ruling that a change in the use of part of a building in Dublin for new offices for the Israeli embassy requires a building permit.

The fifth floor of 23 Shelbourne Road in Ballsbridge, which is designated in the town’s development plan as a “general office”, is to be leased by the State of Israel to the owners of the building, Specter (Shelbourne) Ltd. .

As part of the new lease agreement, Specter said the Israeli embassy would assign an existing lease it had with Specter for similar facilities just down the street at Carrisbrook House on Pembroke Road.

Specter asked the High Court to overturn An Bord Pleanála’s February 2020 ruling that the change in use in the embassy office was a development and therefore did not exempt from a building permit.

Justice Michael Quinn found that the board erred in law, took into account irrelevant considerations and acted irrationally and unreasonably in its decision.

He ordered that the decision be quashed.

The case arose after concerns were raised with Dublin City Council over safety and security by two of the building’s other tenants as part of the planning process. One of them was Finance Ireland. Specter has also requested a declaration as to its status under planning legislation.

The board said the change in use would be an exempt development, but Finance Ireland then referred the matter to An Bord Pleanála who ruled it was not exempt.

In its challenge, Specter claimed, among other things, that the board erred in law, took into account irrelevant considerations, acted irrational and / or unreasonable. Dublin City Council and Finance Ireland were parties to the opinion in the case.

Specter said it had already spent more than € 1 million on renovations and feared it might be subject to planned enforcement action.

In his ruling, Justice Quinn said the board ignored the existence of different land use definitions contained in the city’s 2016-2022 development plan.

The board also failed to consider exercising its discretion under section 138 of the 2000 Planning and Development Act, he said.

This gave him the discretion to reject a referral in circumstances where the city council had previously determined, and made three statements, on the same issue and where there were no new planning and / or factual circumstances that would justify a decision. new board decision.

He also found that the board had erred in law by disregarding previous case law.