Chalet that earned Wicklow council’s wrath is well out of sight

Earlier retention decision stiffened council’s resolve not to allow another precedent

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.

 

The wooden chalet that brought down the wrath of Wicklow County Council and the full rigours of the law on a young couple is well out of sight of passing motorists.

The chalet is located behind a clump of trees and set back against the main N81, one of the busiest secondary roads in the country.

Aesthetically, it is no worse and probably a lot more pleasing than many of the homes that have been built on this road over the years.

By January 31st next year, nine months from now, its owner Gregory Kinsella will have to demolish it.

This decision will not just have consequences for himself. There’s a child’s swing and slide in the garden. Mr Kinsella and his partner have two children, aged three and five.

Mr Kinsella and his sister brought the half-acre site between Brittas and Blessington in 1999.

There was already a 100-year-old cottage on the site and the remains of a chalet. The site is just a few hundred yards from his parents’ home.

Previous occupant

When he discovered that the previous occupant had lived in a chalet on site for 10 years, Greg Kinsella assumed that there was already planning permission to replace it.

Unfortunately for him, he was wrong, and Wicklow County Council has been pursuing a case against him since his chalet was first built in August 2012.

A notice of the application seeking retention of the structure is still posted to the wooden rails outside the home.

The council claimed the entrance to the chalet is a danger to oncoming traffic and will add to the volume on an already busy road, but there are generous sight lines either side and a single car is hardly going to make a difference.

Mr Kinsella is reluctant to speak out publicly about what happened as he may have future dealings with Wicklow County Council, but he feels hard done over what has taken place.

The decision by a previous High Court judge Mr Justice Gerald Hogan to allow retention of a similar-type unauthorised structure in Roundwood stiffened the council’s resolve not to allow another precedent.

When Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns previously ruled that the Tinode chalet could not stand, Mr Kinsella knew he had no choice but to demolish the family home.

At least he will not have to pay Wicklow County Council’s costs, but it is his only victory in a three-year battle which will leave him and his family looking for a new place to live.