THE WIFE of singer Van Morrison has initiated a High Court challenge over the alleged failure of her local council to protect the privacy of the couple’s home in Dalkey, Co Dublin, when dealing with planning permissions for a neighbouring “Celtic Tiger type” house.
The council had accepted a permission compliance notice from the couple’s neighbours, Desmond and Mary Kavanagh, which provided for the planting of shrubs between the sides’ properties when it is actually trees that are required to protect her family’s privacy, Michelle Morrison claims.
Ms Morrison, née Rocca, of Kilross House, Sorrento Road, is seeking leave to bring proceedings to quash Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council’s acceptance of that notice of compliance related to the redevelopment of neighbouring Mount Alverno, home to the Kavanaghs.
Ms Morrison, described in court papers as a consultant, claims the landscaping proposed for Mount Alverno will cause significant overlooking of her family’s property.
She claims, before accepting the disputed compliance notice, the council failed to take into account a number of unauthorised amendments to previous permissions granted for their neighbour’s property, described by her counsel, Eamon Galligan SC, as a 7,500sq ft “Celtic Tiger type house”. Without proper landscaping and, in particular, the replacement of a number of trees, a “gangway” style balcony in the Kavanagh’s home seriously overlooks Ms Morrison’s rear garden and a large number of first floor windows in Mount Alverno also intrude on her family’s privacy, it is claimed.
Overlooking of the Morrison’s driveway and front living room has already been caused by works to the entrance of Mount Alverno also not carried out in compliance with planning permission, it is alleged.
The court heard the Kavanaghs had proposed providing replacement screening between the properties through shrubs, bay laurel, holly, and cherry laurel but Ms Morrison’s experts argued semi-mature canopy trees are required.
Ms Morrison claims the council should not have accepted a permission compliance notice for Mount Alverno because, she alleges, the landscaping conditions, which had also been imposed in two previous planning permissions, had not been met.
The last permission was granted following a Bord Pleanála appeal in August 2009 and the council accepted a submission from the Kavanaghs the following September as to compliance with the permission. Mr Justice Michael Hanna, at the end of yesterday’s proceedings, urged the parties to consider talking, saying: “This case is going to cost somebody an awful lot of money”.
Opening the case earlier, Mr Galligan, for Ms Morrison, said the council accepted the Kavanagh’s compliance submission, despite the fact Ms Morrison had complained previously of unauthorised work at Mount Alverno. This complaint related to a new entrance which was five feet wider than proposed and was located 18ft from where it was supposed to be.
While the council brought enforcement proceedings over this, that was only after it had accepted the compliance submission from the Kavanaghs in which they had proposed planting holly, laurel and hedging, counsel said.
All the latter were shrubs and there was a significant difference between shrubs and trees, counsel said.