Dermot Desmond trust wants to demolish State's most expensive house

It was sold in 2005 for €58 million but now owner Celtic Trustees wants to knock Walford and build a vast new house and garden

CGI image of the proposed development of Walford as a luxury residence

CGI image of the proposed development of Walford as a luxury residence

 

A trust associated with businessman Dermot Desmond has sought planning permission to demolish Walford on Shrewsbury Road, the most expensive house ever sold in the State.

Celtic Trustees, whose beneficiaries are Desmond’s children, has ambitions to demolish the 554 sq m (5,963 sq ft) house, which its consultants deem to be of “poor architectural quality” in order to replace it with a 1,595 sq m (17,168 sq ft) mansion. The design of the proposed house is heavily influenced by the designs of Sir Edwin Lutyens, taking inspiration from Tigbourne Court in Surrey and Greywalls in Scotland. Lutyens’ work is considered to be amongst the finest examples of arts and crafts architecture and neighbour Denis O’Brien previously had ambitions to replace his home across the street, Belmont, with a palatial home inspired by another Lutyens’ designed house, but was denied planning permission.

Celtic Trustees’ chances of obtaining planning permission are markedly better. For years, neighbours have faced the disheartening prospect of the property being turned into a housing estate, whereas the current proposal will see the property utilised as a lavish single residence. In spite of its gargantuan size, the new Walford would be only marginally larger than other homes on the street, but smaller than ex-Aryzta chief Owen Killian’s Shrewsbury House which is 1,951sq m (21,000sq ft). If granted permission, the new Walford will contain four bedrooms, each with up to two-ensuite bathrooms and dressing rooms, a lift serving all floors, wine cellar, gym and a large indoor swimming pool.

The plans mark an end to a 13 year saga, which began in July 2005 when Walford was sale agreed for a mind-blowing €58 million to a mystery buyer using a trust named Matsack Nominees

The 0.72 hectare (1.77 acre) site itself, Walford’s most valuable feature, will be transformed into what will likely be the most elaborate private garden in Dublin city, to include a formal garden area with ornamental pond. The trust may well spend over €20 million in total on the property by the time the purchase price of €14.25 million and build costs of the proposed house are taken into account.

The plans mark an end to a 13 year saga, which began in July 2005 when Walford was sale agreed for a mind-blowing €58 million to a mystery buyer using a trust named Matsack Nominees. The identity of the purchaser remained shrouded in secrecy for years and speculation was rife that that developer Sean Dunne was the mystery buyer behind the trust. It was later claimed by newspaper columnist turned property developer Gayle Killilea, who married Dunne in 2004, that ownership of the house had been transferred to her in 2005. The property was later transferred to a Cypriot company, Yesreb Holdings, before being sold to the Desmond trust in December 2016.