Businesswoman Denise Harris refused permission for Newbridge ‘trophy home’

Planning board rules that proposed house in Co Kildare ‘represents an unacceptably low density’ for site, located on a bend in the Liffey

Harris Group chief executive Denise Harris has been refused permission for an 11,000sq ft Italianate mansion in Newbridge, Co Kildare, which locals had called “monstrous” and a “trophy home”.

An Bord Pleanála ruled that the planned house “represents an unacceptably low density” for the site, adding that by virtue of its size and location in the town centre it “would give rise to increased urban sprawl, as demand for housing is met by development further out from established town cores”.

Mrs Harris, who lives on Sorrento Road in Dalkey, was initially granted permission for the house by Kildare County Council in July 2022.

Her plans set out how the development, on a site that sits on a bend in the Liffey as it passes through the town, would “provide an authentic, classical, Italianate house set in beautifully landscaped gardens, which will be a significant addition to the built environment of Newbridge”.


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However, the plan was subject to several objections at local and An Bord Pleanála level, the planning files show.

Local Fianna Fáil Cllr Rob Power wrote in one objection: “I believe the community of Newbridge have been wronged in the granting of permission on this key site adjoining the Liffey Linear park in the town.”

In his filing to An Bord Pleanála he said that the proposed house contravened the town’s local area plan, and did not meet sustainable planning standards.

A group of residents in a nearby housing estate also filed a submission, arguing that the grant of permission was “a grave error” and that such a large “trophy home”, which it described as “monstrous” was “not appropriate for this area”. They also noted that the proposal for a house on the site was a contravention of the site’s zoning.

Mrs Harris took over the running of the Harris Group from her husband, the late Robert Pino Harris after he died in 2017. The business has a substantial premises on the Naas Road in Dublin, as well as a large UK headquarters in Liverpool.

The group’s corporate structure consists of a large number of unlimited companies, which are not obliged to publish full financial accounts, so it is not possible to get an accurate sense of its turnover or profits for a given year.

When contacted for comment, Mrs Harris said: “I was expecting it and it is no surprise.”