A man in north County Dublin has been excluded from a planning dispute he was taking to court after Fingal County Council sent the file to An Bord Pleanála without telling him.
At the heart of the affair is a “large, unauthorized building” in a historic house next to the man’s beach house on Burrow Road in Sutton, a prime residential area where the late rock star Phil Lynott had a home.
Simon Revill, a property manager, has long been embroiled in a dispute over a new building behind and to the side of his neighbor Philip Farrelly’s house. His mother, Jackie Revill, bought the house with her husband in the 1970s.
The controversial structure next door was built without planning permission, according to an enforcement notice from Fingal three years ago ordering Mr Farrelly to remove it.
The still-standing structure overlooks the rear of Mr Revill’s home on Burrow Beach near Howth, casting his garden and the rear of his house in shadow.
Frustrated after years of legal and administrative wrangling, Mr Revill said he could not understand why Fingal Town Council had failed to force his neighbor to remove the offending building. “The simple solution is for the council to fulfill its legal duty,” Mr Revill said.
For his part, Mr Farrelly insisted there was nothing wrong with the building but declined to discuss the dispute over that piece. “Other than I am absolutely convinced that the construction is completely legal, I have no comment,” he said.
Mr Revill brought legal action against the development in 2019, but a judge ruled the court could not interfere between neighbors.
After residents on the street made complaints, Fingal City Council issued an enforcement order to Mr Farrelly in March 2020, ordering him to remove the unauthorized structure and stating that the development was “not exempt from planning regulations”. .
But years later the building was not demolished, prompting Mr Revill to enter into lengthy correspondence with Fingal City Council demanding action to ensure compliance with its own enforcement order.
“I have written a letter to the council every two weeks about this case. They tell me it’s within the legal realm,” Mr. Revill said.
“It’s been an absolutely devastating, soul-destroying five years that no one should have to endure.”
Mr Revill did not know that Fingal had forwarded the file to An Bord Pleanála in July to obtain an explanation from the Planning Appeal Board as to whether certain construction and demolition works “are or are not a development or are or are not an exempt development”.
This move by the council came as a surprise to Mr Revill as he was never notified and only found out about it after The Irish Times investigated the case.
According to An Bord Pleanála’s online docket note, the case is expected to be decided by November 21. “The board considers this … transfer to be valid and is currently before an inspector,” it said in response to questions.
When Mr Revill attempted to submit a formal response to An Bord Pleanála last week after belatedly learning about the case, the planning authority told him that the four-week deadline for the response had expired.
An Bord Pleanála informed Mr Revill: “In this case, the transfer was received on July 19, 2023 and the last date for receipt of a submission or comment was August 15, 2023. However, your submission or comment was received on October 18 with the board in 2023 and it is regrettable that it must therefore be considered invalid.”
Mr Revill said: “I was denied my legal right to comment to An Bord Pleanála.”
An Bord Pleanála said the legal deadline for making observations was set out in the Planning and Development Act 2000. “Once the inspector’s report is complete, the file will be forwarded to the board for review and decision.”
After Mr Revill complained to Fingal Council last week about the referral to An Bord Pleanála, the council sent him his July entry.
The Fingal document states: “Since the enforcement notice was published, the developer has put forward the case that in his opinion the development is an exempt development.” At this point it is considered appropriate to provide a statement from An Bord Pleanála on this matter.”
Asked about Mr Revill’s complaints about non-compliance with his enforcement order and referral to An Bord Pleanála, Fingal said that in such a case there was “no obligation for the council to notify a party or make submissions”.
“Following the decision of this referral by An Bord Pleanála, the planning authority will consider its position and take the appropriate steps if necessary,” Fingal said.