Tycoon appeals to build lift into Meath mansion due to 82 steps
A US multi-millionaire wants to install a lift in an 18th-century stately home he owns in Co Meath because there are so many steps that both his and his wife's elderly parents can't stay overnight.
Charles Noell bought what's been called one of Ireland's finest Palladian mansions, Ardbraccan House near Navan, in 2013, forking out almost €5m for the 120-acre estate. The lavish house extends to over 23,000 sq ft - about 17 times bigger than the average Irish home.
Mr Noell's planning team, Dublin-based firm Marston, has also warned An Bord Pleanala that unless he secures permission for the lift, the millionaire's plans to develop an equine business at the estate could be jeopardised.
Meath County Council has refused permission to install the lift at Ardbraccan, claiming it would have a negative impact on the character and integrity of the protected home.
Mr Noell and his planners have appealed that decision to the planning watchdog.
"There is a need for a lift in Ardbraccan as staff, residents and visitors are currently required to go up a flight of 82 steps from the basement to the second floor," they argue, claiming the distance is the equivalent to that in a modern five-storey property and that it's a "health and safety hazard".
"The owners cannot have their elderly parents to stay in the house given that the bedrooms are located on the first and second floors," according to the appeal. Mr Noell's wife is Barbara Voss Noell.
It also notes that anyone going up or down floors has to walk the length of the house at one point to reconnect with a staircase. The principal staircase, it says, connects only the ground and first floor.
The planners warn that Mr Noell's equine plans at the estate could also be put in danger.
"It is not possible to develop this business appropriately given the unsafe and cumbersome conditions which currently exist in the house," they claim.
"This requires staff to haul luggage, linen and other day-to-day items up from the basement," the planners argue. "This is unsafe and cumbersome in relation to achieving modern living standards."
The home was built in the mid-1700s as a residence for the Bishops of Meath.
It was designed by Richard Castle, who also designed Leinster House.