Plans to redevelop Ireland’s most expensive house refused

Walford on Shrewsbury Road Dublin was bought by developer Sean Dunne for €58 million in 2005

Plans to redevelop Ireland's most expensive house, bought by Sean Dunne and his wife Gayle Killilea Dunne for €58 million in 2005, have been refused by An Bord Pleanála.

Walford, an Edwardian house on an almost two acre site at 24 Shrewsbury Road in Dublin 4, was sold for €14 million in 2013 to Cypriot-registered Yesreb Holding Ltd, whose owners remain a secret.

However, appellants against the plan to renovate and extend the house, and build four new houses in its grounds, suggested Mr Dunne may still have beneficial ownership of the property.

Dublin City Council last March granted permission for much of the development but included a condition reducing the number of new houses to three. Yesreb appealed that condition, while a number of Shrewsbury Road residents appealed the development in its entirety.


An Bord Pleanála overturned the council’s decision and refused permission, saying the development would injure the “unique character” of an important historic house and road.

Mr Dunne’s link to the property only came to light last February when he told a meeting of creditors he had gifted his wife €58 million to buy Walford, a property that, nine years after that purchase, remains the highest price ever paid for an Irish house.

Several parties to the appeal said planning permission should not be granted when the owner of the property was unknown. Yesreb’s directors are listed in Cyprus as another company Totaltrust Management Ltd, whose directors are also unknown.

An Bord Pleanála said it noted the legal issues raised in relation to the identity of the owner, but decided not to pursue this because there were sufficient planning reasons to refuse the development.

Shrewsbury Road was a largely intact example of an Arts and Crafts designed residential area, and a road of unique character within Dublin city, it said. Walford was a house of “significant architectural, historical, cultural and social value, and forms an integral component of, and is in harmony with, the historic pattern of development on Shrewsbury Road”.

The road had been designated a Residential Conservation Area by the city council, and the development, because of its height, scale and layout, would be out of character and have a negative impact on the area. It would conflict with the policies of the city development plan, and would “set an undesirable precedent in this sensitive setting”.

The proposed development would “seriously injure the amenities of the area and property in the vicinity, and would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area,” the board said.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times