Thursday 7 February 2008

Council to seek court order to demolish house

Meath County Council is expected to seek a court order shortly for the demolition of a large two-storey house near Navan which was built without planning permission.

The council is expected to reactivate earlier legal proceedings for the demolition of the house near Bohermeen. This follows the refusal of An Bord Pleanála to grant retention permission for the unauthorised development.

The house was built by the owner, Michael Murray, a local plumber who owns a plant hire business. At 588sq metres in size, it was about twice as large as the house proposed in the original planning application. Mr Murray declined to comment on the case.

Last November, An Bord Pleanála refused retention permission for the house, which is in a cul-de-sac at Faughanhill. It ruled that the house was out of character for the area and represented an "unduly prominent and incongruous" feature on the landscape. It would also give rise to excessive development in a rural area lacking services and would set an undesirable precedent for further development, the board found.

The board rejected arguments made on behalf of Mr Murray by planning consultant Seán Lucy, who said his client was born and reared in the family home less than half a mile from the house under dispute. He said Mr Murray had applied for planning permission for a house for himself and his family on three occasions on three different sites, but was refused.

Mr Lucy said Mr Murray had built the house "in desperation" because he needed a home for his wife and three children. His client recognised that he was "remiss", but pleaded that this should not prejudice his case.

The An Bord Pleanála inspector found that Mr Murray met the criteria for local needs under the guidelines for sustainable rural housing and ruled there were no traffic issues. However, he claimed permission would place excessive pressure on waste water treatment in an unserviced rural area and so would be prejudicial to public health.

An Taisce (Meath branch) had appealed the application for retention permission, saying it could set a dangerous precedent. Not only had the original planning refusal been ignored, but the house built was considerably larger than the original application, it said. The area has seen a number of planning applications, most of which have been refused.

A council spokesman declined to comment on the case as it was the subject of legal proceedings which were started after the council refused Mr Murray's initial planning application on the site in May 2006.

The Irish Times

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