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Neighbours’ row over ‘large unauthorised structure’ at period house referred to An Bord Pleanála

Simon Revill, a property manager, has been involved in a long dispute over a new building by the rear and side of the home of his neighbour, Philip Farrelly

A man in north county Dublin has been shut out of a planning row in which he took court action after Fingal County Council sent the file to An Bord Pleanála without telling him.

The affair centres on a “large unauthorised structure” at a period house adjoining the man’s beachfront home at Burrow Road in Sutton, a premium residential strip where the late rock star Phil Lynott had a home.

Simon Revill, a property manager, has been involved a long dispute over a new building by the rear and side of the home of his neighbour, Philip Farrelly. His mother, Jackie Revill, bought the house in the 1970s with her husband.

The disputed structure next door was built without planning permission, according to a Fingal enforcement notice three years ago that directed Mr Farrelly to remove it.


Still standing, the structure overlooks the back of Mr Revill’s home by Burrow Beach near Howth and throws his garden and the rear of his house into shadow.

Frustrated after years of legal and administrative wrangling, Mr Revill said he cannot understand why Fingal council has failed to compel his neighbour to remove the offending building. “The simple solution is for the council to carry out their statutory duty,” Mr Revill said.

Mr Farrelly, for his part, insisted there was nothing wrong with the building but declined to discuss the row for this piece. “Other than to say that I am absolutely confident that the construction is perfectly legal, I have no comment,” he said.

Mr Revill took court action against the development in 2019 but a judge ruled that the court should not interfere between neighbours.

After residents on the road made complaints, Fingal council issued an enforcement order to Mr Farrelly in March 2020 instructing him to remove the unauthorised structure and saying the development was “not exempted” from planning rules.

But years later the building has not been removed, leading Mr Revill to engage in prolonged correspondence with Fingal council demanding action to ensure compliance with its own enforcement order.

“I have been writing to council on a fortnightly basis about this case. They tell me it’s in the legal realm,” Mr Revill said.

“It’s been an absolutely devastating, soul-destroying five years that no one should be subjected to.”

Unknown to Mr Revill, Fingal referred the file to An Bord Pleanála in July seeking a declaration from the planning appeals body on whether certain construction and demolition work “is or is not development or is or is not exempted development”.

That move by the council surprised Mr Revill as he was never notified and learned of it only after The Irish Times made enquiries about the case.

According to An Bord Pleanála’s online note on the file, the case is due to be decided by November 21st. “The board are treating this ... referral as valid, and it is currently with an inspector,” it said in reply to questions.

When Mr Revill tried to make a formal submission to An Bord Pleanála last week after belatedly hearing about the case, the planning body told him the four-week deadline for making observations had passed.

An Bord Pleanála told Mr Revill: “In this case the referral was received on 19th July 2023, and the last date for receipt of a submission or observation was 15th August 2023. However, your submission or observation was received by the board on 18th October 2023 and it is regretted that it must, therefore, be regarded as invalid.”

Mr Revill said: “I have been denied my legal rights to make an observation to An Bord Pleanála.”

An Bord Pleanála said the statutory period for making observations was set out in the Planning and Development Act of 2000. “As soon as the inspector’s report is complete, the file will be in line to go to board for its consideration and decision.”

After Mr Revill complained last week to Fingal council about the referral to An Bord Pleanála, the council provided him with its July submission.

The Fingal document said: “Since issuing the enforcement notice the developer has put forward the case that they consider the development is exempted development. At this point it is considered appropriate to seek a declaration from An Bord Pleanála on the matter.”

Asked about Mr Revill’s complaints over noncompliance with its enforcement order and the referral to An Bord Pleanála, Fingal said there was “no requirement for the council to notify any party or to invite submissions” on such a case.

“Following the determination of this referral by An Bord Pleanála, the planning authority will consider its position and take such steps as appropriate,” Fingal said.

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times