An Bord Pleanála has granted planning permission to contentious plans for more than 650 homes on playing pitches beside St Anne's Park in Raheny in north Dublin.

The appeals board has given Pat Crean's Marlet Group the green light despite strong local opposition against the plan.

The appeals board had received more then 650 objections against the proposed development.

Under the Government's 'fast track' planning rules, Marlet's Crekav Trading was seeking a ten-year permission to construct 657 apartments on the St Paul College's site.

However, against the background of the continuing housing crisis, the appeals board has granted a five-year permission ensuring that the residential units will be built at a much faster rate.

The development is made up of 378 two-bed apartments, 224 one-bed units and 55 three-bed units across nine apartment blocks ranging in height from five to nine storeys.

In the granting of permission subject to 25 conditions, the appeals board upheld the recommendation of its own inspector Karen Hamilton at the end of her 101-page report to grant planning permission.

The appeals board stated that the proposed development would not seriously injure the residential or visual amenities of the area or of property in the vicinity.

Objectors claimed that the height of the apartment blocks is inappropriate and that the development is excessive and out of character with St Anne's Park. 

Dublin City Council also told the appeals board that the application should be refused due to a number of reasons, including significant biodiversity issues at the site. 

Marlet has proposed that 66 of the units go towards social and affordable housing. 

The granting of permission follows the appeals board refusing plans for a similar scheme in September 2018.

The board had initially, in April 2018, granted permission for 104 houses and 432 apartments on the St Paul's College site to Marlet, but that decision was the subject of a High Court challenge. 

The action taken by Clonres CLG, representing residents from the Clontarf area, and two environmentalists, was the first challenge to a decision made under the State's new "fast-track" planning system.