Deputy chairperson of An Bord Pleanála was pursued in High Court for defaulting on investment property loans

An Bord Pleanála’s (ABP) deputy chairperson defaulted on loans and had receivers appointed to three investment properties. He also failed to declare his legal ownership of all three properties in his 2021 register – despite being required to do so by law.

Paul Hyde, a personal friend of Simon Coveney and former co-owner of the racing yacht Dark Angel with the foreign minister, draws a €140,000 salary as ABP deputy chairperson. After his appointment to ABP, Hyde was pursued through the High Court for defaulting on two property loans before both proceedings were stopped.

ABP board members by law have to resign if they make “a composition or arrangement with creditors”, according to the Planning and Development Act 2000. It’s also a criminal offence under the act for board members to fail to declare interests in property. ABP refused to confirm to The Ditch if Hyde disclosed the appointment of receivers to three of his investment properties.

A succession of appointments by Fine Gael ministers

Simoney Coveney, a schoolmate of Hyde at PBC Cork and who in 2007 declared a donation of €2,500 from Hyde’s father Stephen, appointed his friend to the Marine Institute board in June 2012. Hyde resigned this position when former Fine Gael minister Phil Hogan appointed him to ABP in May 2014. In 2019 former Fine Gael housing minister Eoghan Murphy promoted Hyde to deputy chairman of ABP, which increased the Corkman’s salary from €111,000 to €140,000.

Simon Coveney at a 2009 charity cycle in Cork with Paul Hyde

Since December 2017 Hyde has also been chairperson of the planning authority’s strategic housing development division.

Formerly a member of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, Hyde has run into difficulties with several property investments since his appointment to ABP.  

Promontoria Aran in April 2015 took over the Ulster Bank mortgage on land in Rathduff, county Cork owned by Hyde and three co-investors.

In March 2017 the distressed loan buyer issued High Court proceedings against Hyde and his co-investors but the case was discontinued four months later. According to Cork County Council planning records, the property has since been bought from a receiver.

Hyde had failed to make repayments on another Ulster Bank mortgage for a property he owned since 2007 in Douglas, county Cork. In October 2017 Promontoria Oyster appointed a receiver to sell the one-bed apartment.

Hyde had rented the apartment for €950 a month as late as October 2016. In July 2021 it was sold at a distressed property auction for €121,000.

Another trip to the High Court

Castleventry Ltd in August 2019 initiated High Court proceedings against Hyde, his wife Christine and receiver Tom O’Brien.

The company had bought another of Hyde’s properties in Douglas at auction for €284,000. The case was discontinued in February 2021 and plaintiff Castleventry applied to the Property Registration Authority to have the property transferred to their ownership.

Despite declaring he had no properties in his January 2021 declaration of interests, Land Registry records indicate Hyde was still a registered owner of all three properties – two in Douglas and land in Rathduff – at the time.

ABP is an independent planning body and its members decide appeals on planning decisions made by local authorities. Since 2017 it is also tasked with deciding on direct applications for strategic housing developments.

Hyde, Coveney, ABP and housing minister Darragh O’Brien declined to comment.