Desmond-linked firm in court action over housing development

Financier involved in dispute over land near Old Belvedere rugby club in Dublin

Dermot Desmond’s involvement, through Stamport, stems from the fact that he took control of the Old Belvedere grounds in a little-publicised deal more than a decade ago.  File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Dermot Desmond’s involvement, through Stamport, stems from the fact that he took control of the Old Belvedere grounds in a little-publicised deal more than a decade ago. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Financier Dermot Desmond has teamed up with a well-known south Dublin rugby club in a High Court action over a housing development adjacent to its grounds.

A company linked to Mr Desmond, Stamport Limited, has taken the court case alongside Old Belvedere, the 100-year old club whose grounds are between Anglesea Road and Ailesbury Road, two of the most expensive residential roads in the city.

The defendant in the case is Tony Kilduff, the serial entrepreneur who made his fortune in the 1990s with a series of investments in the fledgling Irish tech sector.

Mr Kilduff was also a director of some of the ill-fated Belfry property investment funds which were established by AIB during the boom, the collapse of which led to multiple cases from investors.

The Irish Times has established that the case relates to a development of two houses next to the club, which the plaintiffs maintain has encroached on their grounds. The plaintiffs will argue that a specific strip of land has been infringed by the development. It is not known what damages or redress will be sought arising from the action.

Elgin Capital, where Mr Kilduff is a director, has been named in the action as a co-defendant.

Mr Desmond’s involvement, through Stamport, stems from the fact that he took control of the Old Belvedere grounds in a little-publicised deal more than a decade ago, sources said. The club has a long-standing arrangement to act as an effective joint custodian of the lands, which allows them to continue playing their home fixtures and providing training facilities for its teams on the valuable plot of land.

Planning documents show that Mr Kilduff originally obtained planning permission to demolish an existing house on Ailesbury Drive, which adjoins the rugby club’s grounds in 2008. The two houses would extend to 291sq m and 226sq m respectively with large front and back gardens.

The planning application made in 2007 was strongly opposed by neighbours, who suggested on aesthetic grounds that the development “will be visually ugly and out of context with the area” and would lead to the “destruction of a fine house”.

‘Offensive’

A second objection from a neighbour noted that a kitchen window would look on to Ailesbury Grove, just one metre from the footpath. “Whilst this proximity to the public footpath may be acceptable in a city centre terraced property it is not acceptable in this location”. The same objector said that the aspect of the house on to their home was “not acceptable and is offensive”, and said that one of the homes would be “stuffed into a square bounded by the boundary wall of Old Belvedere Rugby Club and Ailesbury Grove. This is an abuse”.

In 2017, Mr Kilduff obtained a revised planning permission increasing the size of the basement in one of the houses and modifying some aspects of the design of the other. Again, this attracted objections from the neighbours. However, there were no objections to either application from either Stamport or Old Belvedere.

Old Belvedere was founded in 1918. Among those who have worn its jersey are Kevin Barry, the IRA member who was executed by the British army at age 19. Sir Tony O’Reilly, the former chairman of Independent News and Media who was a successful international rugby player in his youth, also lined out for the club. Ollie Campbell, who played for Ireland and the British and Irish Lions, played for the club, while current internationals Jack Conan and Rory O’Loughlin also played for the Dublin 4 side.

Solicitors for Old Belvedere and Stamport did not reply to a request for comment. No reply was received from Mr Desmond nor Mr Kilduff’s offices.