Threat of Judicial Review hangs over St Mel’s plan

A local man who has objected to part of the works on the interior of St Mel’s Cathedral says he is prepared to bring his ojection to the High Court.

A local man who has objected to part of the works on the interior of St Mel’s Cathedral says he is prepared to bring his ojection to the High Court.

Liam Madden, Convent Road, Longford has objected to a number of proposals associated with the rebuilding of the cathedral’s interior. Longford Town Council granted planning permission, subject to conditions, to St Mel’s Diocesan Trustfor works “relating to the interi or of the building” on November 27, 2012.

In the planning file, Mr Madden claims that the permission granted is invalid, because the matter was under appeal by him through An Bord Pleanála at the time of consideration. The matter centres around objections made by him over the roof of the cathedral and subsequent issues he then raised over the floor in the building. While considering Mr Madden’s objections, An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission in respect of the roof, but the second matter is now with the planning authority, awaiting a decision.

“It is open to me to advance those arguments in the form of a referral to An Bord Pleanála or to the High Court,” Mr Madden cited in his submission. “The planning authority sought further information – this process is the cornerstone of the planning process – and many are planning applications that have been withdrawn, due to the failure of the applicant to submit further information necessary within the statutory six month period; if the further information is not submitted by March 23, 2013, the application shall be deemed to have been withdrawn.”

Mr Madden then went on to say that the cathedral’s sanctuary, baptismal font, organ loft and the replacement of concrete flags with stone were “exempted developments” and pointed to the cathedral becoming a “Theatre in the Round”. “As a direct consequence of the relocation of the altar and podium, the cathedral has become a Theatre in the Round, all that changed in Vatican 11; the original plan has gone beyond its sell by date and the relocation of the organ has left a vacuum,” he explained further. “I strenuously object to the lift as it is designed and where it is designed, and I am supported by the Heritage Officer’s assessment in this. In-camera meetings between the applicant’s agents and officer’s of the PA were held, and there are no minutes from these meetings .”

He said that if An Bord Pleanala continue “as though both the decision and appeal are valid, it runs the risk of a High Court Judicial Review which will set aside its order; the decision, and of course my appeal and then making a declaration that the application is withdrawn by March 23, 2013.”