An Bord Pleanála deputy chairperson refused housing scheme bordering father’s development land

The embattled An Bord Pleanála (ABP) deputy chairperson voted against a proposed housing scheme on a site bordering development land owned by his father. This news follows The Ditch’s earlier revelation that he also voted to refuse permission to a development beside land owned by his own company.

Paul Hyde voted against the development despite having previously been granted permission to build more than 700 apartments on the same site at a time when he owned it with his father. The land, which Cork County Council built a secret underpass on, is now owned by his brother Stefan Hyde.

Under its code of conduct, ABP members are required to recuse themselves from voting on any decision where their participation “could give rise to an appearance of objective bias”. Board minutes released to The Ditch confirm Hyde failed to raise any conflict of interest when voting on the development.

Sinn Féin TD Mairéad Farrell is set to raise the matter with minister for public expenditure Michael McGrath, saying "the presence of conflicts of interest create the conditions where (corruption) can take place”.

Hyde received permission for 771-unit development on same land

The development was to be a 227-unit complex at Terrysland, Carrigtwohill, about a 20-minutes drive from Cork city centre. Cork County Council granted permission to developer BAM Property for the complex on 16 April, 2018. After a number of objections the decision was referred to ABP.

When the matter came before ABP in December 2018, the proposed development bordered a nine-acre parcel of land owned by Paul Hyde’s father Stephen Hyde and his business partner John Horgan. A train track was all that separated this land and the site of BAM Property’s mooted complex.

Paul Hyde did not declare this potential conflict of interest and was one of three ABP board members who voted to overturn the council’s decision and refuse planning permission.

Paul Hyde’s brother Stefan now owns the nine acres of land since his father Stephen transferred it to him in 2020. According to the Cork County Council 2017 development plan, the land is zoned for community and residential use.

Though Paul Hyde voted against BAM Property’s 227-unit development on the land, he himself received permission for a much larger development on the same site.

The Ditch can reveal that Cork County Council previously granted permission for a 771-unit complex to a company owned in equal shares by Paul Hyde and his father Stephen. The company received this permission in 2002 on the very land later subject to ABP’s refusal in 2018. The company, Blandcrest Ltd, was dissolved in 2011.

In 2014 the Irish Examiner uncovered a secret underpass running under the Hyde family land that Cork County Council built at a cost of €1.5 million. The underpass, which connects the Hyde land to the site now owned by BAM Property, was filled in with soil when discovered by journalist Conor Ryan. The council refused to release any records relating to its decision to fund construction of the underpass.

Stephen Hyde and the Horgan family had also owned the site of the refused BAM Property development until they were forced to sell part of it in 2018 following a High Court judgement mortgage issued against Stephen Hyde.

The Ditch recently reported that Hyde failed to declare another possible conflict of interest when he refused permission for a residential development beside his property company’s land in Blackpool, Cork.

Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell is going to raise the matter with Fianna Fáil minister Michael McGrath.

"Conflicts of interest don't necessarily equate to corruption. But as we saw with the likes of the planning tribunal, the presence of conflicts of interest create the conditions where it can take place.

“ABP plays a hugely important role in planning and housing, so it's absolutely imperative that these matters are addressed to alay public concerns that nothing untoward has happened here. I will be raising this issue with the minister,” she said.

Paul Hyde, ABP and Cork County Council declined to comment.

The Ditch editors

The Ditch editors