Row erupts over demolition plan for historic 1860s house

A planning row has erupted over plans to demolish one of the most beautiful and expensive homes in Ireland with a sea view.

A local community group in the upmarket Dublin suburb of Dalkey is mounting opposition to the proposal by a wealthy businessman to knock down Sunnyside — a luxury mansion overlooking Killiney Bay.

Ian Curley, the former chief executive of glass and metal company Ardagh, wants to demolish the 520 sq m house located on Vico Rd in Killiney, for which he paid €4.35m in December 2015, and replace it with an even larger dwelling. However, plans for a new three storey, five-bedroom that extends to 582 sq m are being opposed by the Dalkey Community Council.

The group lodged an appeal against the recent decision of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Council to approve the demolition of Sunnyside and grant planning permission for the new development.

The house, which is located on the seaward side of Vico Rd, was previously owned by Robin Power, a well-known property developer and was the residence of the South African ambassador until a few years ago.

The Victorian-style villa, which was built in the 1860s, offers panoramic views of the coastline including Dalkey Island (pictured), Bray Head, and the Sugar Loaf.

At one stage after Mr Curley bought the property, it was advertised for rent with an asking price of €15,000 per month.

Outlining its objections, the Dalkey Community Council said Sunnyside was in the Vico Road Architectural Conservation Area, which contained “a collection of historic suburban villas and terraced houses located on a dramatic-sloped topography looking out to the sea.”

“Its proposed modern replacement would therefore conflict with the surrounding historic architecture,” said community council spokeswoman Susan McDonnell.

“Sunnyside is part of this heritage and its demolition would remove part of our heritage.”

Dr McDonnell contested claims by consultants acting for Mr Curley that the existing building is “at the end of its useful life” and its replacement would offer more spectacular views of Killiney Bay for the public.

The community council also warned that allowing the proposed development would set a dangerous precedent.

“Large houses in these scenic areas would be at risk as they would be considered in terms of the site value only and not their additional intrinsic or historical worth,” said Dr McDonnell.

The group also expressed concern that construction work on Sunnyside could destabilise the existing sloping ground while also making Vico Rd inaccessible to the general public.

The owner has claimed that Sunnyside has been altered extensively over its lifetime and now retains little of its original architectural fabric.

Mr Curley’s plans have been supported by the well-known journalist, Robert Fisk and his wife, Nelofer, who own an adjoining property on Vico Road.Mr Fisk, the Middle East correspondent of The Independent, claimed the existing building was “of little or no architectural merit, is poorly constructed and we would fully support its removal.”A ruling in the case is expected in early 2019.

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