Unauthorised family home must be demolished by January 31st

High Court decides date over Wicklow chalet after decision on demolition given last week

Built in “gross” breach of planning laws, a young family’s chalet home near Blessington, Co Wicklow must be demolished by January 31st next, the High Court has ruled. Ronan McGreevy reports.


A young family’s chalet home built near Blessington, Co Wicklow must be demolished by January 31st next, the High Court has ruled.

An order for demolition of the wooden home, built in “gross” breach of planning laws, was made by president of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns last week, on April 17th, in what was an important judgment endorsing strict enforcement of such laws.

That judgment strongly disagreed with findings of another High Court judge who, in a 2013 judgment, refused demolition of a different wooden chalet home near Lough Dan in Co Wicklow.

Last week’s order permits demolition of the home at Tinode, Blessington, on the N81 road between Tallaght and Blessington, of Gregory Kinsella, his partner and their young child.

Mr Kinsella had told the court he had no alternative housing for his family and after a failed effort to sell the lands, had “no option” but to build there. He did not accept traffic hazards existed, as the council alleged.

In his decision, Mr Justice Kearns said planning control is “an essential environmental necessity in a properly ordered society”, without which there would be nothing to stop “a free-for-all development culture from running riot”.

Levels of ‘absurdity’

There would be levels of “absurdity” if property rights of a person acting unlawfully were in every instance to be permitted to trump those of a democratic society.

An “extreme” example given was that a person might create overnight a structure outside Dublin’s GPO with sleeping and cooking facilities, and then claim it was “inviolable” due to the constitutional protection afforded to the family home.

Mr Justice Kearns said he had difficulties with the June 2013 decision of Mr Justice Gerard Hogan in the case of Wicklow County Council v Fortune, which the Council argued rendered “ineffective” the enforcement procedures, including demolition, of Section 160 of the Planning and Development Act 2000.

He said full enforcement of Section 160 was appropriate and proportionate in this case where the development was “unauthorised and deliberate”.

Mr Kinsella built the dwelling and occupied it without any planning permission and in full knowledge that the council regarded it as unauthorised and illegal, he said.