Party wall of woman’s home ‘completely exposed’ after neighbours demolished house, court told

Next-door neighbours did not have planning permission to demolish the entirety of their house, High Court hears

The party wall of an elderly woman’s home is exposed to the elements after her next-door neighbours demolished the entirety of their semi-detached property without proper planning permission, the High Court has heard.

Through her son, the woman has sued the owners of the adjoining four-bedroom house over what she claims is unauthorised development that is causing damage to her property.

The woman no longer lives in her house since she moved to a nursing home, the court heard.

Her counsel, Eoin Clifford SC, with Mark O’Connell BL, said the neighbours at the adjoining property obtained two previous planning permissions to carry out other works, including the demolition of a single-storey rear extension to the property. However, this “did not provide for demolition of the entire property”, which allegedly occurred last December, and has left his client’s party wall - the wall shared between neighbours - “completely exposed”, he told the High Court on Wednesday.


Prior to this the neighbours had a good rapport, but relations have since broken down, said Mr Clifford.

An engineer who inspected the premises said in a report that he believed the demolition was not authorised and was, therefore, unlawful. There is a strong likelihood it has caused “significant structural damage” to the woman’s adjoining home, he said.

The engineer said he observed cracks on the front and back walls of the woman’s property, as well as cracks around windows, indoor ceilings, and party wall.

From a return visit earlier this week, the engineer said he saw that the party wall has been exposed to the elements since last December without being coated with external plaster.

A comprehensive survey of the party wall and assessment of the extent of damage to the structure of the woman’s home is required, he said.

Observing photos of the dwelling, Mr Justice Charles Meenan said it appeared the whole house had been effectively demolished. It seems “on its face” this was not permitted, he said.

He noted he was dealing with the matter on an ex-parte basis, so the respondents were not present to counter the claims.

He granted an injunction restraining the respondents from carrying out continued works at the next-door site pending further order of the court.

The matter will return later this month.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter