Wednesday 17 January 2018

Professor wrote letter to architects representing Michelle Morrison's neighbours to tell them of 'upset' over works, High Court hears

Michelle Morrison
Michelle Morrison

Tim Healy

An architect who represented Van Morrison and his wife Michelle during negotiations over the redevelopment of their neighbours’ Dalkey home has said they were “upset” over the work.

Professor James Horan told the High Court he wrote a letter on behalf of the Morrisons in 2008 in which he said they were "particularly upset" and stating all matters before that time had been "for discussion only".

The letter was sent to new architects representing the Morrisons' neighbours', Conor and Eileen Kavanagh who redeveloped their Mount Alverno home at Sorrento Road and Nerano Road, Dalkey.

Prof Horan said in the letter his clients had asked him to question "if the events to date have any validity" and in particular discussions about a minor land swap to facilitate the creation of a new driveway into Mount Alverno.

He was under cross-examination by Esmonde Keane SC, for the Kavanaghs, on the third day of Ms Morrison's action claiming her neighbours breached an agreement that shrubbery planting carried out as part of the redevelopment of Mount Alverno would not affect the Morrisons' views of Dalkey Island and sound from their Kilross House home.

The Kavanaghs deny there was any such agreement or that such views existed.

Prof Horan told the court that throughout discussions with a number of architects representing the Kavanaghs from 2004, it had been agreed the views would be preserved.

After the Kavanagh's got planning permission in 2007 and construction work started, the Morrisons had a number of concerns about what was happening including the location of a site office hut in Mount Alverno, certain windows in the redevelopment, and noise from generators.

When a new firm of architects was brought in by the Kavanaghs, Prof Horan became concerned about the bona fides of the new architects particularly as they had agreed a particular window in the redevelopment would be removed but it was not.

Mr Keane put it to Prof Horan that as a result of the letter questioning what had happened to date, and no land swap having taken place, the Kavanaghs had to go back to a design for a "jagged wall" along the driveway.

Prof Horan replied he could not say what happened after this.

Prof Horan said his engagement with the Morrisons was terminated in 2008 because he believed "my clients might have preferred someone who might have been more aggressive".

Put to him that there was no binding agreement, and nothing in writing, about preserving the views, Prof Horan said he had a verbal agreement made with previous architects representing the Kavanaghs.

He was unable to say whether there was anything in writing but there may have been.   He said he had not gone through every single document in a half metre high file of documents which had been returned to him after Ms Morrison got new solicitors to represent her.

Prof Horan also agreed with Mr Keane that the first "neighbourly gesture" between the parties was when the Kavanagh's allowed the Morrisons to use a second entrance to Mount Alverno, at Nerano Road, as an access for the purpose of relaying the driveway into Kilross House.   He also agreed Mr Kavanagh had allowed workers for the Morrisons store materials in the Kavanagh garage.

The case continues.

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