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Mathews hits wall in battle to build new 7ft boundary

Colourful and outspoken Fine Gael backbencher Peter Mathews TD has run foul of his local residents' association, which objected to his plans to build a 7ft wall around his new home in the leafy south Dublin suburb of Mount Merrion.

Documents filed with Dun Laoghaire County Council show that the Dublin South TD and his wife Susan, wanted to build the pebble-dash wall to "alleviate the incessant traffic noise and tumult" from one of Ireland's busiest roads.

The house, which is located at the edge of Mount Merrion, off the extremely busy Stillorgan Dual Carriageway opposite the Stillorgan Park Hotel, was bought by the Mathews last Christmas.

But trouble blew up in suburbia when they applied to build a small extension downstairs and increase the height of their perimeter wall.

"Permission is sought for the removal of the existing 970mm high front and part side boundary wall and replacing it with a 2140mm high pebble-dashed wall with brick capping together with a new timber pedestrian gate, piers and associated site works," their application dated last July stated.

However, their plans were thwarted by the chairman of the Mount Merrion Residents Association, Mr Michael Walton, of nearby Cherrygarth, who branded the wall "monstrous".

In his letter of objection to the council, dated July 24, Mr Walton said: "Construction of a monstrously high pebble- dashed concrete wall would totally unbalance the streetscape and fly in the face of everything we, with the assistance of the DLR council, sought to preserve during the recent Mount Merrion 300 year commemorations."

He added: "We are trying to preserve for future generations the ambience that has remained untouched at this important junction for 77 years. This wall is part of our heritage, and we, the MMRA, are custodians of something the council in its wisdom agreed to help us preserve."

In their lengthy submission in response to Mr Walton's letter, dated August 14, Peter and Susan Mathews stressed their "deep commitment to the Mount Merrion community".

"Their neighbours of 14 years can attest to their high standards of upkeep and aesthetic appearance both of their home and also the streetscape," their submission stated.

They argued that the environment around the house has been transformed entirely from the time it was built because of the "six-lane N11 Motorway." The Mathews said as a result of compulsory purchase orders to facilitate the building of the dual carriageway, residents along the road "were badly affected by a loss of gardens".

"The proposed wall would help to alleviate the situation to some degree by way of partial blocking/muffling the worst of the traffic sound," they wrote.

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"Ambulances and cardiac ambulances, fire brigades and fire tenders, motorbike riders travelling at speed with sirens wailing at all hours of the night, every day of the week, make for a very noisy living experience at this location," they said.

The Mathews said they have found the level of disturbance "unsettling".

They also referred to a "very distressing" incident on the road.

"Only recently, on a Friday morning when Peter was away from home for a couple of days, Susan opened the hall door after breakfast to find the front porch and paths outside defiled by faeces and human excrement.

"Three cigarillo tipped butts, the wrappers for the cigarillos and residual ashes were scattered on the porch," they added.

Ultimately the council decided to grant permission to the Mathews to build the wall, but with restrictions.

"The proposed new boundary wall to the front and side shall be reduced in height to a maximum of 1.7m above existing ground level and shall be finished with a stone face similar to adjoining boundary treatments to the north of the site," the council stipulated.

The decision of August 29 stated the new restrictions were "in the interest of visual amenities and the proper planning and sustainable development of the area".

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