From today's Irish Times:
Council forces developer to demolish six houses
Six houses built without planning permission in Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, have been demolished some six years after enforcement proceedings were initiated against the developer.
Wicklow County Council initiated legal proceedings against developer Leslie Armstrong in early 2003 and achieved a Circuit Court order for the demolition of the six town houses. The council told the court that an agricultural building had been converted into four houses, while a further two were erected nearby.
Granting the orders for the demolition of the new houses and the reinstatement of the land in 2005, Judge Pat McCartan of the Circuit Court described Mr Armstrong as a seasoned developer who should have known better. The judge said there was a complete and knowing disregard of the planning laws by Mr Armstrong.
However, Mr Armstrong applied for permission to retain the houses and appealed to the High Court. When this proved unsuccessful, the council took proceedings against Mr Armstrong in 2007 for non-compliance with the court order.
The application came before Wicklow Circuit Court on February 7th, 2008, and Mr Armstrong sought time to comply with the order. He was granted an adjournment to enable him to reinstate the original buildings and demolish the rest.
When the case came back before Wicklow Circuit Court on Wednesday, the application was struck out given that compliance had been achieved in relation to the court order. Costs were awarded to the council. The council costs were in excess of â‚¬18,500 and Mr Armstrong also had to suffer his own legal costs, in addition to the construction and demolition costs involved.
The council described the case as â€œa very successful case for Wicklow County Councilâ€, adding that it â€œhighlights how seriously the council took compliance with the planning laws. Attempts to contact Mr Armstrong yesterday for a comment were unsuccessful.