Friday 21 September 2018

Mother banned from planting hedge around home wins High Court challenge against An Bord Pleanála

The High Court in Dublin (Stock image)
The High Court in Dublin (Stock image)

Ray Managh and Aodhan O'Faolain

A mother-of-two, who was prohibited by the planning authorities from planting a hedge around her Co Donegal home for the safety of her children, has won a High Court challenge against An Bord Pleanála.

Wendy Tweed and her husband Paul Fletcher had bought the former ‘Hair O the Dog’ pub in Quay Street, Moville, which they had been refurbishing as a home for themselves and their two children aged six and seven.

Barrister Michael O’Donnell told the High Court that having been given the go-ahead by Donegal County Council to turn the old hotel and pub premises into a three-bed two-storey dwelling, Ms Tweed had sought additional planning permission for a four feet high post-and-wire boundary fence and hedge.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan had heard that the former pub car park and boundary touched on the shore of Lough Foyle and there had been objections from Foyle and Moville Rowing Club. Now the High court has been told An Bord Pleanála has agreed to the quashing of its order prohibiting the erection of the fence.

The club contended that the fence would block the car park area, restrict vehicle turning space and seal off a “public viewing area” all of which were on the private grounds of Ms Tweed’s new home.  It claimed a fence would reduce a pedestrian footpath and create traffic and walking hazards on a steep cliff-like shore

Mr O’Donnell, who appeared with Tom Wylie of Babington Solicitors, Derry, said Tuesday that the matter would now return to An Bord Pleanála which would appoint a new inspector to reconsider the objections to the development.

He said Ms Tweed wished to provide a safe and secure environment for her children where they could play with a degree of privacy. 

She was fearful of allowing them to play in a car parking and turning area.

Mr O’Donnell told the High Court Ms Tweed was the registered owner of the lands and Donegal County Council had accepted that the property was not subject to any public rights. 

He said the rowing club had raised concerns in respect of the obstruction of access to the foreshore of the lough and he submitted the club was not a legal entity entitled to make any appeal against planning permission for the boundary fence.

Ms Tweed told the court in an affidavit that Bord Pleanála's inspector, Ms Dolores McCague, who had been appointed to hear the appeal, in her assessment had concluded the lands within the boundary had been used by the public for parking cars, for viewing events on the Foyle and for general amenity use.

Ms McCague had in effect held the property surrounds were public lands which could be used by the public as of right.  Ms Tweed claimed the inspector made findings in respect of a range of public rights on the basis of vague and unsubstantiated assertions from persons who had no right or basis to do so, depriving her of all control over her private property.

It was confirmed Tuesday that an Bord Pleanála had consented to the quashing of its original decision and would arrange a new hearing.

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