Van Morrison’s wife takes action over views from Dalkey house

High Court hears of alleged breach of redevelopment agreement by neighbours

An architect has told the High Court that he agreed with another architect representing neighbours of Michelle Morrison, wife of singer Van Morrison, during planning discussions that views from her Dublin home would not be affected by redevelopment work on the neighbouring house.

Prof James Horan represented Ms Morrison in pre-planning application discussions with architects for the neighbours, Conor and Eileen Kavanagh, the court was told.

He gave evidence on the second day of an action by Ms Morrison against the Kavanaghs over an alleged breach of an agreement that views of Dalkey Island from her home would be preserved in the redevelopment.

Prof Horan said it was agreed during initial pre-planning application discussions that the view would be preserved by leaving the wall at the end of Ms Morrison’s garden as it was.


It was also agreed that there would be no planting behind the wall that would be higher than that wall.

Prof Horan said the main purpose of meeting with the Kavanaghs’ architect was to ensure there would be no objection from the Morrisons when the planning application was submitted.

No objection was lodged, but a letter of observation was submitted to the planning authority, he said.

He said that this was done to ensure that, if the planning authority gave permission with certain conditions, his client would have a right to be included in any subsequent An Bord Pleanála appeal process.

Without a letter of observation, that right would be eliminated, he said.

New architects

In 2005, the Kavanaghs got new architects, and Prof Horan said he had further pre-planning application discussions with them.

They did not discuss the issue of views because “as far as I was concerned, it was already agreed”.

The Kavanaghs obtained planning permission, but it was appealed by certain other neighbours.

The Kavanaghs asked Ms Morrison for a letter of support in the appeal and Prof Horan said he discussed that with his client.

He said that it was agreed that the planning application had a lot of positive points and it would be desirable to give such a letter, which he said was “fairly unusual” in planning cases.

Asked by Mark Sanfey SC, for Ms Morrison, how the letter of support reflected the relationship between the Kavanaghs and Morrisons, Prof Horan said that "it reflected there was an extremely courteous, cordial, friendly and professional relationship between the parties".


Earlier, photographer Fionnan O’Connell said he was asked by the Morrison side to take photographs of the views from the Morrison garden and kitchen table.

He took about 150 photographs, later pared down to 18, which were presented in court.

Under cross-examination from Esmonde Keane SC, for the Kavanaghs, he disagreed that the photos in court showed there was no view of the sea from most of the garden and kitchen area until one goes up to a wall at the end of the garden.

Mr O’Connell said he believed there was a view of the sea when the light was right.

Earlier efforts to get the entire dispute sent to mediation were also unsuccessful.

Mr Justice David Keane had urged the parties on Tuesday, the opening day of the hearing, which is expected to last 10 days, to reconsider mediation, even though a previous attempt had failed.

Following talks on Wednesday, the judge was told there had been no agreement and the case proceeded.

In her action, Ms Morrison claims the Kavanaghs are in breach of an agreement that the views from her home would not be blocked out as a result of shrubbery planting at the rear of the Morrisons’ home at Kilross House, Sorrento Road, in Dublin, which is next to the Kavanaghs’ home, Mount Alverno.

The Kavanaghs deny there is any panoramic view at the property or that Ms Morrison is entitled in law to such a view.

They also say they are not bound by any conditional agreements to maintain shrubbery at a certain height and any view is extremely limited by virtue of existing hedges and vegetation on other properties.

The case continues.