McDowell home 'different' from original plan


Roscommon County Council has argued before the High Court that the Minister for Justice's holiday home near Rooskey did not have the benefit of planning permission because it was significantly different than that for which permission was granted.

Yesterday was the second day of judicial review proceedings brought against the council by Mr McDowell and his wife, Ms Niamh Brennan, concerning planning difficulties relating to their near-completed holiday home at Levagh, Rooskey. The council has refused to extend the duration of the planning permission and the couple have challenged that refusal as irrational.

Mr Pat Butler SC, for the council, referred yesterday to difficulties faced by the council concerning the application for an extension of the permission. He said the application form itself was important because on page two it referred to a proposed floor area but no specific floor was given. That was the first difficulty. Mr Butler said there was also no indication as to the number of levels in the building and it was not known which floor and which levels were being referred to.

He said it had been claimed by counsel for the Minister and his wife that it was intended to have a laundry and fuel store room at levels one and two but in fact there were three bedrooms there.

The council says it refused the application for an extension of the permission as the development under construction was significantly different from that for which planning permission was granted.

The senior planning officer had recommended that the question of extension to the duration of the permission did not arise as the dwelling under construction did not have the benefit of planning permission.

The council's director of services had found that the finished floor level of level three was not as provided for in the planning permission drawings. Level one, described as a "basement floor", was also not at the height provided for in the planning drawings.

This rendered the development under construction lower than that specified in the planning permission, it was argued.

The director of services formed the view there was a significant difference between the development permitted by the planning permission and that which was now under construction. The difference was 2.6 metres which was almost nine feet. This difference was material and could not be ignored.

The court has also heard Mr McDowell is taking separate proceedings against the council, claiming damages for "significant financial loss and damage" as a result of the alleged unlawful actions of the council.

The hearing before the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Finnegan, continues today.