The An Bord Pleanála (ABP) deputy chairperson approved a controversial planning application made by his sister-in-law in relation to a property she co-owns with his brother. The development is now the subject of High Court proceedings where it is alleged the applicants have failed to adhere to the conditions of their planning permission.
The news follows a series of stories on ABP deputy chairperson Paul Hyde in The Ditch and subsequent announcement from housing minister Darragh O’Brien of a senior counsel-led review into Paul Hyde’s affairs. A Cork property developer that was refused planning permission by a Paul Hyde-attended board meeting has taken to the High Court to challenge the decision.
ABP has also begun an audit of hundreds of Paul Hyde’s planning decisions.
'The meeting was attended by two board members – one of whom was Paul Hyde'
Paul Hyde’s brother Stefan, a founding partner of engineering company Maurice Johnson & Partners, is married to Caroline Hyde. In 2021 they bought a semi-detached house in Sandymount, Dublin 4 for €990,000.
Shortly before they bought the house, Caroline Hyde sought planning permission from Dublin City Council for what she claimed would be a “two-storey extension to the side and rear of the house”. She made the application using her maiden name, Caroline Barron.
The council granted permission but attached conditions to the proposed development, one of which required the size of the house’s master bedroom to be amended and a first-floor windowsill to align with existing windows.
Caroline Hyde appealed these conditions to ABP and one of the planning authority’s inspectors in a May 2021 report recommended that the condition about the master bedroom be retained while the condition on the windowsill be struck out.
When this report came before the ABP board in June 2021, the board decided to strike out both conditions. Two board members attended the meeting – one of whom was Paul Hyde.
In disagreeing with the inspector's recommendation on the master bedroom, the board “considered that the proposed development would not be overbearing to an extent that would injure the amenities of the neighbouring property”, according to the ABP order.
Stefan and Caroline Hyde have now been named in High Court proceedings in relation to construction on the Sandymount house, with papers last issued in April this year. It’s understood the case relates to their alleged failure to comply with the terms of their planning permission.
Dublin City Council has indicated it agrees with this allegation.
In a 16 March letter this year to a local resident, the council wrote that after an inspection from its planning enforcement officer, the council “considered that the demolition carried out at (the site) has exceeded the granted planning permission”. Despite this finding the council however told the resident the case had been closed.
An ABP statement published yesterday said, “An Bord Pleanála will fully cooperate as required with the process announced by the minister. The board is also reviewing, and is seeking legal advice in respect of, certain issues arising from these matters. In the context of these ongoing processes, An Bord Pleanála considers that it would be inappropriate to make any further comment at present.”
Paul and Stefan Hyde declined to comment. Caroline Hyde could not be reached for comment.