Solicitors representing the Irish-backed firm who are taking a £3million court action against the GAA have applied for summary judgment through the London High Court. The option is often taken when it is felt the defendant has no real prospect of defending the claim.
Novalong made the application after awaiting the outcome of September negotiations with Croke Park Financial Director Tom Ryan and the GAA’s solicitor Michael Kennedy, which they say failed to yield a satisfactory outcome. Novalong are currently locked in a dispute with the GAA over development rights to the former county grounds in New Eltham South London. GAA Director General Padraig Duffy is one of four trustees of the site and Novalong says the trustees are personally liable for the debt.
In 2001, Novalong bought the option to develop the 13-acre site for £500,000 with the proviso of another £5.5million if permission was granted. But since their planning application was rejected by then Secretary of State Ruth Kelly in 2007, the company say the GAA have withdrawn cooperation vital to success ofany development.
In a statement released through The Irish Post, Novalong Director Mark McCarroll said the court action was a last resort but necessary in order for the company to protect its asset. There was hope for a resolution in September when solicitors representing the company met with Director of Finance Tom Ryan and the GAA’s solicitor Michael Kennedy in London, but no resolution was found. With no breakthrough since, Novalong’s solicitors have applied to the High Court for summary judgment. Croke Park continues to refuse to comment on the case, stating that it’s a legal matter. The Irish Post also understands that London officials have been asked to remain tightlipped.
But documentation obtained by The Irish Post this week suggests that Novalong’s option to develop the site remains, under terms of reference set out in the Local Development Framework. The documentation also points to a clause which extends the option agreement under the same framework. In 2007, a planning inspector granted permission for the scheme — which incorporates 261 dwellings, parkland and social amenities — this was subsequently called in and overturned by the Secretary of State.
In addition to the dispute, the scheme faces strong opposition from residents living nearby the 13-acre site, but Novalong say they are committed to seeing the development through and have bought surrounding properties which are vital for any future development.
The company says the GAA are damaging its own asset through refusal to cooperate. It is estimated the development could be worth up to £14million if planning was granted