Saturday 22 October 2016

Architect of Van Morisson's wife agreed with neighbour's architect on views in pre-planning discussions, court hears

Tim Healy

Published 07/10/2015 | 17:41

Michelle Morrison
Michelle Morrison

AN architect says he agreed with an architect representing Michelle Morrison's neighbours that views from her home would not be affected by redevelopment work on the neighbouring house in Dalkey, Co Dublin.

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Professor James Horan represented Ms Morrison in pre-planning application discussions with architects for the neighbours, Conor and Eileen Kavanagh, the High Court heard.

He was giving evidence on the second day of an action by Ms Morrison - wife of singer Van Morrison - against the Kavanaghs in which she alleges they breached an agreement that views from her home of Dalkey island would be preserved in the redevelopment.

Prof Horan said it was agreed during those discussions the view would be preserved by leaving the wall at the end of Ms Morrison's garden as it was and that there would be no planting behind the wall which would be higher than that wall.

Prof Horan said the main purpose of the meeting with the Kavanaghs' architect was to ensure there would be no objection from the Morrisons when the planning application was submitted.

Prof Horan said no objection was lodged but a letter of observation was submitted to the planning authority.

Van Morrison and his wife Michelle
Van Morrison and his wife Michelle

This was done, he said, to ensure that in case the planning authority gave permission with certain conditions, then his client would have a right to be included in any subsequent Bord Pleanala appeal process.   Without a letter of observation, that right would be eliminated, he said.

In 2005, the Kavanaghs got new architects and Prof Horan had further pre-planning application discussions with them.   However, they did not discuss the question of views because "as far as I was concerned, it was already agreed".

The Kavanaghs were granted planning permission but it was appealed by some of the other neighbours.

Read more: Wife of Van Morrison claims neighbours breached an agreement in building works row, court hears

The Kavanaghs asked Ms Morrisson for a letter of support in the appeal and Prof Horan said he discussed it with his client. It was agreed the planning application had a lot of positive points and it would be desirable to give such a letter which he said was "fairly unusual" in planning cases, he said.

Planning officials and Bord Pleanala officials would also attach a lot of weight to an immediate neighbour's house, Prof Horan said.

Asked by Mark Sanfey SC, for Ms Morrison, how the letter of support reflected the relationship between the Kavanaghs and Morrisons, Prof Horan said "it reflected there was an extremely courteous, cordial, friendly and professional relationship between the parties".

Earlier, photographer Fionnan O'Connell said he was asked by the Morrison side to take photographs of the views from the Morrison garden and kitchen table.   He said he took around 150 photographs which were later pared down to 18 presented in court.

Under cross-examination from Esmonde Keane SC, for the Kavanaghs, he disagreed that the photos in court showed that from the vast majority of the garden and kitchen area, until one goes up to a wall at the end of the garden, there was no view of the sea.  Mr O'Connell believed there was a view of the sea when the light was right.

Earlier, efforts to get the entire dispute sent to mediation were not successful.

Mr Justice David Keane had urged the parties on the opening day - of a hearing expected to last ten days - to reconsider mediation even though a previous attempt had failed.

Following talks today, the judge was told there had been no agreement and the case proceeded.

In her action, Ms Morrison claims the Kavanaghs are in breach of an agreement that the views from her home would not be blocked out as a result of shrubbery planting at the rear of the Morrisons' Kilross House, Sorrento Road, next to the Kavanaghs' home, Mount Alverno.

The Kavanaghs deny there is any panoramic view or that Ms Morrison is entitled in law to such a view.   They also say they are not bound by any conditional agreements in relation to maintain shrubbery at a certain height and say that any view is extremely limited by virtue of existing hedges and vegetation on other properties.

The case continues.

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