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Proposal for Ireland's most expensive house shot down

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Walford on Shrewsbury Road, Dublin

Walford on Shrewsbury Road, Dublin

Walford on Shrewsbury Road, Dublin

Planners have shot down proposals for the redevelopment of Ireland's most expensive home, ownership of which has previously been linked to bust developer Sean Dunne.

An Bord Pleanala overturned a decision to allow a Cypriot company permission to renovate and extend Walford and build four other homes on the grounds of the 1.8-acre property on Dublin's Shrewsbury Road.

The decision came after local residents, including David McCann, the boss of banana giant Fyffes, mounted a vigorous campaign against the proposals.

The ruling overturns an earlier decision made by Dublin City Council to allow the redevelopment of the Edwardian era property.

Walford became the most expensive dwelling in the country when it sold for €58m in 2005. It remains the highest price ever paid for a house in Ireland.

The transaction has been the subject of much speculation over the past decade and is currently being investigated by Christopher Lehane, the Insolvency Service official overseeing Mr Dunne's bankruptcy.

Mr Lehane has stated in legal papers he believes Mr Dunne was the purchaser.

But this has always been denied by Mr Dunne, who claims he loaned his wife, former gossip columnist Gayle Killilea, the money to buy it.

Walford was subsequently sold in 2013 for €14m to Yesreb Holding Ltd, a mysterious Cypriot-registered company whose true ownership has not been revealed.

It was this company which made the planning application at the centre of An Bord Pleanala's deliberations.

Objectors had complained about the validity of the original planning application, as it was not clear who owned Yesreb.

In submissions to the board ahead of its ruling, the owner of a neighbouring property, solicitor Stephen MacKenzie, stated his belief Mr Dunne was Walford's beneficial owner.

The ownership issue was not explored in detail in the board's ruling.

It found that the initial application by Yesreb was valid, and instead focussed on the potential impact on the locality and the existing building.

The board found the proposals to be out of character with the locality, which is a residential conservation area.

They concluded the additional houses would be visually dominant and overlook nearby property, injuring the amenity of residents and depreciating the value of local properties.

They also found the proposed extension of Walford would interfere with the character and historic design of the house.

Irish Independent