One of Ireland’s best-known broadcasters, Newstalk's Pat Kenny and his wife, Kathy, have lost out in their battle against plans for apartment and housing development on a site adjacent to their Dalkey home.
This follows An Bord Pleanála in a surprise decision giving Richard Barrett’s Bartra Capital Property planning permission for the 18 apartments along with six houses for the 1.4-acre site.
Bartra Capital had originally lodged plans for 19 apartments and seven houses.
The appeals board has given the scaled-down plan the go-ahead in spite of the staunch opposition by the Kennys and other locals and a strong recommendation by the board’s own inspector to refuse planning permission.
The ruling by the appeals board also overturns a decision by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to refuse planning permission for the contentious plan.
The board inspector in the case, Kenneth Moloney concluded that the proposed development would have an overbearing impact, would be visually obtrusive, would overlook and would seriously injure the residential amenities of the adjoining properties.
At the conclusion to his 46-page report, Mr Moloney stated:
As such the proposal would detract from the amenities of adjoining properties, would be out of character with, and fail to respect the established pattern of development in the vicinity, and would set an undesirable precedent for similar type of development in the area.
However, in its ruling, the board stated that in deciding not to accept the Inspector's recommendation to refuse permission, the Board “was satisfied that the proposed development would be in accordance with the zoning objective for the site; would be consistent with national and local planning policy; would be subject to compliance with the conditions attached; be acceptable in terms of separation distances to site boundaries; would not seriously injure residential amenities in terms of overlooking or overbearing, and would not constitute overdevelopment of the site”.
The board also gave planning permission for the plan having regard to the nature, scale and design of the proposed development; the availability in the area of a wide range of social, community and transport infrastructure and the pattern of existing and permitted development in the area.
The board also had regard to the planning history in the area concluding that the proposal would constitute an acceptable infill residential development in this location, would not seriously injure the residential or visual amenity of the area; would not detract from the character of the area, would be acceptable in terms of design, height and quantum of development and would be acceptable in terms of pedestrian and traffic safety.
The planning permission - unless successfully challenged in the High Court by the Kennys and others objectors who have that option - will now mean that Bartra can secure a return on its investment on the site.
Last August, Bartra Capital Property paid €3.1m for the Maple Tree House site adjacent to the Kennys' home and also paid for an additional 0.51-acre site.
The Kennys led the local opposition against the plan with 17 other objections from locals also lodged against the planning application.
The Kenny objection pointed out that their home, The Anchorage abuts the subject site.
The Kennys stated that the loss of light on their property that would result from the proposal “would be disastrous”.
The objection stated: “In my opinion, the proposed development by the applicant is not in compliance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area."
The objection stated that if permitted the development "would detrimentally impact on The Anchorage" and other residential properties in the area.
It would also set a precedent that could ultimately seriously damage the character of the area.
They stated that planning permission should be refused as “this development is ill-thought and appears based on the quest for density alone with scant other consideration”.
The Kennys stated: “We have no desire to object to every development proposal, but we seek only to have appropriate development in terms of scale and function."
They went on to state: “At the outset, Ireland is undergoing a housing crisis. Therefore, it is incumbent to realise the development potential of serviced-residentially zone land.
“However, as outlined clearly in the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Development Plan, any densification of brownfield lands must be balanced with respect for the receiving environment of established residential properties.
“With that principle in mind, the crux of the issue in considering the proposed development is that the suitability of the site in principle and the ability of the receiving environment to absorb the proposal are two very different considerations.”
The Kennys opposed the plan on a number of grounds - density, scale and massing, design, traffic impact, impact on trees and habitat and residential amenity.
The Kennys stated that the development would result in gross overlooking along with loss of light and loss of privacy of The Anchorage.
They stated that “the Duplex apartments at the end of the site overlook The Anchorage and any roof terrace or window would be less than 15 metres from our daughter’s bedroom window and 19 metres from our bedroom window”.
They pointed out that the ground level of The Anchorage is 3.5 metres below the ground level of the Duplex Apartment block G&H.
They stated: “On our outdoor dining patio, we would be facing a construction with a roofline some 11 metres above us, denying us light and privacy.”