PLANS BY prominent solicitor and developer Noel Smyth to build a 440sq m (4,736sq feet) house in Dalkey, accessed by an old right of way for walkers, have attracted more than 30 objections from local residents.
Objectors claim the zoning on the site near Torca Road does not permit the construction of additional buildings and say plans by Mr Smyth to replace a 25sq m derelict shed with the De Blacam Meagher-designed house makes a mockery of planning objectives.
The Mount Salus Residents’ Association says in an objection that the three-bed house would seriously injure the amenities and natural environment of the Gorse Hill park in Dalkey.
“This is in effect a proposal to build a house in a park using the public footpath for vehicular access.”
Dalkey Community Council claims the proposal would destroy the wooded aspect of the site and adjoining woodland area, while the proposal for vehicular access on the right of way raises issues of public safety on a quiet lane.
Another prominent lawyer, Bill Shipsey, and his wife Moira say they do not accept that Mr Smyth has any legal rights over the footpath other than as walkers using a right of way.
The Shipseys say the site was at the centre of a previous planning controversy in the late 1970s.
On that occasion, a planning permission for a house, which was granted one day after planning notice appeared in the newspapers, was overturned by the High Court.
The then owner appealed unsuccessfully to the Supreme Court.
Mr Smyth acted as legal adviser for the owner and in 1981 acquired the property himself.
Former Bank of Ireland governor Howard Kilroy and his wife Meriel argue in their objection that Mr Smyth does not have sufficient title to the right of way connecting Torca Road and Knocknacree Road, which is intended to provide access to the house.
The Kilroys also claim the granting of planning permission would set a precedent for further development in the area.
In 2005, Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council widened the lane, laid tarmacadam and installed lighting. The local authority said at the time it carried out the works to minimise vandalism, facilitate a cycle track and allow access for its van to trim trees and remove undergrowth.
Mr Smyth told The Irish Times yesterday that he owned the right of way but had no intention of closing off access for others.
He described the proposed house as “a labour of love” and said he intended to move into it when it was built.
“This is a beautiful area and I wouldn’t build something there unless it was in keeping with its surroundings.” He had spoken to each of his immediate neighbours and had persuaded them it was “a good thing for the area”.
Mr Smyth said neither he nor his agents had any involvement in the council’s decision to upgrade the laneway.
He pointed out that another house could already use it to drive into their house and that he was extending vehicular access by just five metres, not the 40m (131ft) claimed by objectors.
While he fully accepted people’s right to object to planning applications, he claimed that just “two or three” people were behind the collection of the objections.