Dingle hillside home plans refused

An “earth sheltered dwelling” at Reenbeg, a prominent headland overlooking Dingle harbour, has been refused planning permission by An Bord Pleanála.

The Teletubbies-style home — a contemporary designed U-shaped property built into the hillside on a roughly half-acre elevated site — was to have been barely visible from any angle, it was suggested.

The attempt to disguise the house with stone-faced/earthen banking was to ensure minimal visual impact according to the applicants, agents for applicants Peter and Mary Mullaney who are retiring from the USA.

They appealed a decision by the Kerry County Council last December to refuse permission. The site which can be seen from the pier and the town of Dingle has a history of refusal, although outline permission for a house had been granted in 1979.

An Taisce, the heritage body, which had strongly objected said while “covering the proposed dwelling house with earth may reduce its visual aspect to some extent, it would not fully do so”. In particular the front facing windows “would look out from within the mound and the resulting angular shapes would appear as an unnatural feature in the landscape”.

It also said the headland was undeveloped and unsheltered with the landscape open and exposed.

The council said there would have been huge excavation into the hillside to facilitate the construction.

However, the Mullaneys pointed to developments in the wider area and also said the house was to have been their primary residence when they retired. Ms Mullaney grew up in Dingle before emigrating and so had local links, a requirement for building homes in the Kerry countryside.

Planning inspector Robert Speer pointed to the designation of the area as rural general raising the question that such a sensitive coastal location should enjoy greater protection. It was an important foraging area for the chough, Mr Speer also said.

An Bord Pleanála upheld the council’s refusals. The board ruled the development would set a precedent in a visually vulnerable setting. It also said the steep character of the site would pose a problem for waste water effluent and the presence of the chough, of which Dingle had the highest density in Ireland, was another factor in refusing permission.

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