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Home owner faces jail over planning row

A man who faces prison for building a house higher than his planning permission allowed told a judge yesterday he did not have the money to remedy the situation.

Tim Dixon, counsel for Thomas Walsh, of Ashlawn Park, Ballybrack, Co Dublin, said several banks were pursuing Mr Walsh for account arrears.

He had been attempting to raise funds to comply with Circuit Civil Court orders directing him to reduce the height of the roof by almost a metre and remove dormer windows for which there had been no planning permission.

Mr Dixon told the court that to comply with the court orders would require demolition of the property. It was not possible to reduce the level of the roof without compromising the building.


Walsh's next door neighbour, Narding Pel, had been granted the orders and yesterday asked Judge Jacqueline Linnane to commit Walsh to prison for having failed to comply.

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council had independently sought orders directing Walsh to comply with the planning permission and, failing that, have him attached and committed for contempt of court.

Carol O'Farrell, counsel for the local authority, said if there was any other way of enforcing compliance with the planning regulations it was incumbent on all parties to find it.

She said committal to prison was a jurisdiction exercised sparingly by the courts and if the bank concerned was notified, they might take some interest in the proceedings.

Judge Linnane said Walsh had failed to comply with orders made by the court in November directing reduction of the height of the building and removal of the windows, but committing him to prison at this stage was not going to be of benefit to any of the parties.

She said the matter needed to be resolved from everyone's point of view and directed that KBC Homeloans, from which Walsh had obtained his mortgage, be joined as a notice party in the interests of protecting the property against which their mortgage was registered.

KBC Homeloans is the mortgage and home loans division of Irish bank KBC Bank Ireland plc, Sandwith Street, Dublin.

Judge Linnane adjourned the application to attach and commit Walsh until mid-May during which time the bank should be served with a complete set of pleadings and documents in the case.


The judge accepted as a temporary measure an undertaking from Mr Walsh to block up from the inside the dormer windows in the roof.