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Meath couple’s appeal to save mini mansion built without planning permission still undecided after eight months

Last August, Rose Murray lodged an appeal with the planning authority after the council refused her retention permission for her family home in Faughan Hill, Bohermeen.

Ms Murray and her husband Chris built a 6,000 sq ft home without planning after being refused permission for a property half the size.

They have fought in court for nearly two decades in an attempt to prevent the property from being demolished. Previous withholding requests had been rejected. Last year they applied for retention permission again, proposing to reduce the size of the house by a third.

The application sought permission to demolish the existing carport and attached domestic garage which has a sitting room above it. They also asked permission to keep the remaining two-story house.

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Meath County Council refused. The reasons given were that the house would “lead to excessive density”, sewage concerns and the council said it does not comply with the Meath Cottage Design Guide.

The appeal to An Bord Pleanála was due to be decided on January 10 this year. On January 17, the planning authority wrote to the council requesting an extension of time “due to a significant backlog of cases at board level”.

The delay, he said, was reduced to reduced capacity at the board level in the first half of 2023 due to staff turnover.

According to the letter, the appeal was expected to be resolved by April 26. However, no decision has been published yet.

In a statement to Irish independentAn Bord Pleanála said it is experiencing a backlog of cases due to “both a general increase in the volume of cases received and the complex nature of certain types of cases”.

A spokesman added that the board “will endeavor to resolve the case in the shortest possible time.”

The couple were originally ordered to demolish the house in 2010 following a High Court case brought by the council. Subsequently, in 2017, an appeal was made to the Supreme Court, which upheld the High Court’s decision.

They did not leave the house and the city council took new measures. Last year, the Murrays sought an injunction, alleging that new evidence came to light about the initial denial of the building permit.

One of the reasons they were rejected was due to an alleged sterilization agreement between the city council and the family who sold the Murrays the land on which they subsequently built their house.

An affidavit from John Murtagh, the previous owner of the land, stated that he had no authority to enter into the sterilization agreement because he did not consult his brothers, who were co-owners.

A decision on this case is also still awaited.

In an interview with Irish independent, the couple said they regretted the decision to build the house without permission. Ms Murray said it arose out of “sheer frustration” after purchasing other sites previously and also being refused permission.