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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: 0°C
Eamonn Farrell/
planning row

Watchdog rejects ethics complaint made by Pat Kenny against planning consultant

Last week Pat Kenny said he was “flabbergasted” by an ABP decision concerning a development in Dalkey.

A PLANNING WATCHDOG has rejected an ethics complaint made by broadcaster Pat Kenny against a planning consultant in the ‘badger’ planning row concerning a proposed nursing home adjacent to the Kenny family home in Dalkey.

Last week, Kenny admitted to being ‘flabbergasted’ at An Bord Pleanala’s ‘crazy’ and ‘bizarre’ decision to grant planning permission to Bartra Property for a five storey 104 bedroom nursing home for the ‘Yonder’ site on Ulverton Road and Harbour Road in Dalkey in south Dublin.

A central part of the Kenny opposition was the impact the nursing home scheme would have on a local badger sett and Kenny commented “this is the badgers’ Alamo…the board with this decision has effectively killed the badgers”.

Now, it has emerged that Pat Kenny and his wife, Kathy lodged a formal ethics complaint to the Irish Planning Institute (IPI) against planning consultant Patricia Thornton of Thornton O’Connor Town Planning during the course of the planning dispute.

The planning consultancy firm was employed by Bartra Property in the case.

Confirmation of the IPI complaint is contained within a 25-page Kenny objection against the nursing home released by the appeals board which also contains a number of still CCTV/infra-red images of badgers.

The images show a badger cub suckling its mother; two cubs at play; a badger mother carrying a cub back to the sett and “a rare early morning sighting at the sett”.

The Kennys told An Bord Pleanala “we are surprised to find ourselves in the position of having the defend the badger family given that they are protected in law”.

In their complaint to the IPI, Pat and Kathy Kenny alleged that a section of a planning appeal report by IPI member Patricia Thornton contained false and misleading information in relation to the Bartra nursing home scheme.

In their complaint, the Kennys told the IPI “we were shocked by this behaviour and believe that it merits action and sanction by the institute”.

However, after examining the Kenny complaint, the Membership & Professional Practice Committee of the IPI found that a significant breach of the IPI’s Code of Professional Conduct did not take place.

In the IPI decision letter, the three-person committee confirmed that Thornton did confirm that the Kenny complaint was correct in that a quote in her planning submission on behalf of Bartra from an An Bord Pleanala Inspector’s report was incorrectly attributed.

However, the IPI committee found that “while the inaccuracy is unfortunate, it is as a result of human error”.

The IPI subcommittee stated that Thornton has notified An Bord Pleanála of the error.

The three person committee concluded that in light of the correspondence received by the Institute, “the nature of the error and the explanation of the errors it is the unanimous decision of the sub-committee that a significant breach of the Institute’s Code of Professional Conduct did not take place”.

The subcommittee’s two-page report stated that the substance of the Kenny complaint is that Thornton in making an appeal to An Bord Pleanála incorrectly attributed statements from An Bord Pleanála inspector’s report thereby creating the impression that An Bord Pleanála were previously in favour of the scale of the development subject to the appeal.

The IPI stated that the Kenny complaint pointed out the statement was included more than once in the appeal and alleged that “this is an attempt to mislead An Bord Pleanála.”

Asked to comment on the findings of the IPI sub-committee, Kenny said today: “We found the decision by the IPI unbelievable.”

The Newstalk presenter added:

“We never heard from the appeals board on this. If Patricia Thornton corrected the report with An Bord Pleanála, everyone who was an observer in the case should have got details for that correction and none of us did, as far as I know.”

Asked to comment on the Kenny complaint and the IPI outcome a spokeswoman for Thornton O’Connor Town Planning declined to comment.

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