Wife of Van Morrison claims neighbours breached an agreement in building works row, court hears
THE wife of singer Van Morrison claims her neighbours breached an agreement that her family would continue to enjoy an alleged panoramic view of Dalkey Bay following building work on the adjoining property, the High Court heard.
Michelle Morrison has taken legal action against Conor and Eileen Kavanagh claiming breach of an agreement that the view of the bay and Dalkey Island would not be blocked out as a result of shrubbery planting at the rear of the Morrisons' Kilross House, next to the Kavanaghs' home, Mount Alverno, Sorrento Road, Dalkey, Co Dublin.
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 maintaining shrubbery at a certain height and say that any view is extremely limited by virtue of existing hedges and vegetation on other properties.
Ms Morrison says she did not object to a planning permission for the redevelopment of Mount Alverno in reliance on an agreement that her view and privacy would not be affected. The Kavanaghs deny they induced her not to object on the basis of an agreement.
On the opening day of the action, Ms Morrison's counsel Mark Sanfey said Van Morrison, who acquired Kilross House in 1996, was known for protecting his privacy. Ms Morrison had similar concerns for herself and two young children.
Mr Morrison had little or no role in dealing with the neighbours and had very little part at all, counsel said. The house was transferred to Ms Morrison's sole name in 2009 but it has been at all times been the family home, he said.
The Kavanaghs bought Mount Alverno in 2001 and by 2007 had obtained planning permission to demolish it and replace it with a house twice the size of what was there.
The main issue in this case is whether Ms Morrison and her family are entitled to have a view out over Dalkey Bay, counsel said. The area in question forms part of the driveway up to Mount Alverno and is some distance from the house.
There was agreement that as part of the redevelopment of Mount Alverno that any shrubbery planted would not exceed the height of a wall and in return the Morrisons would not object to the planning application, counsel said.
Ms Morrison lodged an observation to the planning application but not an objection.
The Kavanaghs also permitted the Morrisons' gardener to trim an existing hedge along the other side of the driveway two or three times a year, counsel said.
The Kavanaghs also got their planning permission on the strength of a letter of support to the planning authority from Ms Morrison as well as permission from her to allow the Kavanaghs connect to the drainage system, counsel said. A letter of support from a next door neighbour in a planning application is very important, counsel said.
During discussions and correspondence between architects for both sides in 2009, the Kavanaghs undertook that planting would be maintained to respect both the Morrisons' privacy and their view of the bay, counsel said.
However, Ms Morrison was later informed that as part of the redevelopment, planting for Mount Alverno would be so as to ensure Kavanaghs would not be overlooked from Kilross House. In effect, "all bets were off" and the defendants made clear there was no contractual commitment to preserving the views, counsel said.
Mr Sanfey said after getting planning permission, the Kavanaghs sought and were granted a compliance with permission certificate from the local authority, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Co Council.
However, Ms Morrison then brought High Court judicial proceedings against the council over that decision claiming the work carried out was not in compliance with permission and that her privacy was affected. Those proceedings against the council were ultimately settled in 2010 when the parties "agreed to back off", counsel said.
This case, which is due to last ten days, continues before Mr Justice David Keane who urged the parties to reconsider mediation given the costs involved. He was told a previous attempt at mediation was unsuccessful.
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