Van Morrison house case opens


The wife of singer Van Morrison has initiated a High Court challenge over the alleged failure of her local council to protect the privacy of the couple?s home at Dalkey, Co Dublin, when dealing with planning permissions for a neighbouring ?Celtic Tiger type? house.

The Council had accepted a permission compliance notice from the couple?s neighbours Desmond and Mary Kavanagh which provided for the planting of various shrubs between the sides? properties when it is actually trees that are required to protect her family?s privacy, Michelle Morrison claims.

Mrs Morrison, nee Rocca, of Kilross House, Sorrento Road, is seeking leave to bring proceedings to quash Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council?s acceptance of that notice of compliance related to the redevelopment of neighbouring Mount Alverno, home to the Kavanaghs.

Ms Morrison, described in court papers as a consultant, claims the landscaping proposed for Mount Alverno will cause significant overlooking of her family?s property.

She claims, before accepting the disputed compliance notice, the Council failed to taken into account a number of unauthorised amendments to previous permissions granted for their neighbour?s property, described by her counsel Eamon Galligan SC as a 7,500 square foot ?Celtic Tiger type house.?

Without proper landscaping and, in particular, the replacement of a number of trees, a ?gangway? style balcony in the Kavanagh?s home seriously overlooks Ms Morrison?s rear garden and a large number of first floor windows in Mount Alverno also intrude on her family?s privacy, it is claimed.

Overlooking of the Morrison?s driveway and front living room has already been caused by works to the entrance of Mount Alverno also not carried out in compliance with planning permission, it is alleged. Those works involved the removal of a tree which was supposed to have been retained, it is claimed.

The court heard the Kavanaghs had proposed providing replacement screening between the properties through shrubs including bay laurel, holly, and cherry laurel but Ms Morrison?s experts argued semi-mature canopy trees, to match those already removed, are required.

Ms Morrison claims the Council should not have accepted a permission compliance notice for Mount Alverno because, she alleges, the landscaping conditions, which had also been imposed in two previous planning permissions, had not been met.

The last permission was granted following a Bord Pleanala appeal in August 2009 and the Council accepted a submission from the Kavanaghs the following September as to compliance with the permission.

Mr Justice Michael Hanna, at the end of yesterday?s proceedings, urged the parties to consider talking, saying:

?This case is going to cost somebody an awful lot of money?.

Opening the case earlier, Mr Galligan, for Ms Morrison, said the Council accepted the Kavanagh?s compliance submission despite the fact Ms Morrison had complained prevously of unauthorised work at Mount Alverno. This complained related to a new entrance which was five feet wider than proposed and was located 18 feet from where

it was supposed to be.

While the council brought enforcement proceedings over this, that was only after it had accepted the compliance submission from the Kavanaghs in which they had proposed planting holly, laurel and hedging, counsel said.

All the latter were shrubs and there was a significant difference between shrubs and trees, something which the Kavanagh?s own arborologist had agreed with, counsel said.

Although the Kavanaghs secured planning approval in the last couple of weeks for retention of certain works carried out at Mount Alverno, this was an attempt to side-step the landscaping issue and did not overcome the fact the permission was not in compliance at the time the council accepted the notice last year, counsel said.

Counsel also said, when the Kavanagh?s moved into Mount Alverno in 2001, Ms Morrison had entered into discussions with them about how they were going to redevelop the property and had even provided a letter of support for one of the planning applications. Mediation was also agreed at one point but this was later overtaken by legal proceedings, counsel said.

The case continues.