*Cathal Crowe TD (FF). Photograph: Natasha Barton
PLANS by a Clare TD and his wife to build their dream family home have become ensnared in a four decade long inter generational land dispute with neighbours.
By Gordon Deegan
Cathal Crowe TD (FF) and his wife, Maeve Fehilly earlier this year lodged plans for a one-off house in the countryside for themselves and their three young children at Heathmount, Cratloe in south east Clare on land that has been owned by the Crowe family for six plus generations.
Now, Matthew Broggy with an address of Derrymore Meelick has emerged as one of two objectors against the proposal.
Matthew Broggy’s intervention in Deputy Crowe’s and Ms Fehily’s planning bid comes 43 years after Mr Broggy’s father, Noel objected to plans by Deputy Crowe’s parents, Michael and Irene Crowe to build their own dwelling home.
Noel Broggy opposed the Crowes’ 1979 planning application over a disputed right of way concerning a strip of land adjacent to the Crowe home at Meelick in south east Clare.
The row over the right of way has been the subject of Circuit Court and High Court orders with a High Court judge, Mr Justice Michael Hanna telling Noel Broggy in 2012 “to stop digging”. Matthew Broggy was also named in court as featuring in the right of way dispute with the Crowes.
Now, in a comprehensive submission lodged with Clare County Council the Broggy objection states that the proposed Crowe-Fehilly home is on an exceptionally high elevation.
The submission drawn up on Matthew Broggy’s behalf by architect and planning consultant, Michael Leahy argues that “to grant permission at so high an elevation would set a very unfortunate precedent for developments along other scenic routes in the county”.
Mr Leahy states that the level of excavation proposed will significantly change the landscape “and on this basis alone would call into question whether this site is a suitable one for the construction of a one-off house”.
Mr Leahy contends that under the Clare County Development Plan provisions, applicants for such an area must be a local rural person and have a local rural housing need.
Mr Leahy states that Matthew Broggy has told him that “the applicants already have a dwelling house and as such, they do not have a local rural housing need”.
Mr Leahy states that Mr Broggy has told him that the applicants already own a house in the suburbs of Limerick and that one of the applicants’ family lands are closer to Meelick than the proposed development site.
Mr Leahy said that the rural settlement policy has been introduced to protect areas from random and uncoordinated development “and it should be implemented in this case”.
The five page submission makes no reference to the long running land dispute between the Crowe and Broggy families.
The other objector is listed as Audrey Healy with an address of Knockrahaderry, Liscannor on the north Clare coast- 70 km from the proposed Crowe-Fehilly home.
In her submission, Audrey Healy states that to grant planning permission “would represent an incredibly dangerous precedent”.
Earlier in her submission, Ms Healy contends that is it non-sensible to even consider granting permission where further planning permission for additional homes for an area where existing residents are required to use sand-bags to prevent water flooding their homes.
Neither of the objectors live within the immediate catchment to the proposed dwelling house.
A planning document lodged on behalf of Cathal Crowe and Maeve Fehilly state that the two are seeking planning permission for a “modest 236 sq metre home four bedroom dwelling house”.
Mr Crowe provided a Google Earth image showing 17 homes built at a higher elevation in the local area.
Deputy Crowe declined to comment on Friday on the submissions made on the application ahead of Clare County Council due to make a decision on the application next week.