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17 Gilford Park: a case study in Ireland’s dubious planning and enforcement processes. Paul Hyde, who was one of two Bord Pleanála members who awarded the planning permission to his brother Stefan, and the brothers’ father are connected to Fine Gael


Number 17 Gilford Park , Sandymount, in Dublin 4  is one semi-detached half of a structure adjoining number 15 which is in registered in the ownership of a Mr Anthony Duffy.

The sale of No 17 went through in the second half of 2021 for €960,000 .

It was sold to Caroline Barron and her husband Stefan Hyde who is the brother of Paul Hyde. Paul Hyde is the deputy chairman of An Bord Pleanála, the planning appeals board.

Caroline Barron and Stefan Hyde

In 2021 planning permission was sought for “an extension” of No 17 around the back and also that a side garage and a concrete coal bunker were to be demolished only: “Demolition and removal of sheds, garage and outhouses, and construction of roof extensions, elevation alterations and attic conversion”.

This was misleading as wide-scale demolition of the house at No 17 was envisaged. There was a successful appeal, by Caroline Barron not her husband Mr Hyde,  of the original City Council decision to limit the size of the extension and this appeal was granted.

In disagreeing with its own 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 An Bord Pleanála order.

Scandalously, as reported today by the Ditch website, one of the two names on the decision on the ultimate permission was Paul Hyde’s.

The whole house at No 17, save for the facade , was demolished in contravention of the planning permission sought and granted.

Not only was the building demolished but the foundations were removed and new ones up to 2 metres in depth were dug to create extra space leaving Mr Duffy’s house on what appears like a sort of ledge.

Some of the walls that were demolished provided support for Duffy’s house and this has, according to expert reports, led to damage to his house which would clearly cost a six-figure Euro sum to redress.

Records show that Mr Duffy complained to Dublin City Council.  They were slow to come out due to “Covid” etc and when they did they indicated that the terms of the planning permission had been breached but that having spoken (only) to representatives of Stefan Hyde and Caroline Barron they were satisfied that no further action was necessary or would be taken . Village understands they never spoke to Mr Duffy less still expressed any interest or concern about damage to his house. The High Court record shows that Duffy has initiated proceedings himself against  Caroline Barron and Stefan Hyde.

So the ruse appears to have worked to date as building is ongoing and despite the legal proceedings there has been no basis on which anyone can contest the substance of the Bord Pleanála decision itself nor the inevitable  disturbances that have ensued – despite the original inaccurate description of the proposed development as “an extension” .

Meanwhile, Ms Barron and Mr Hyde are ploughing ahead . Whether the house will, in fact, be occupied as a family home or sold when completed is unknown . The size of the house would make it one of the largest semi ds on the road (2400 sq feet). Effectively by digging down almost 2 metres and also using an attic extension the house will be converted into a de facto three-storey dwelling.

The case shows up the shortcomings of the whole planning process which are well known to those in the building and planning businesses –  you can get away with seeking to do something like an “extension” to which no reasonable neighbour would object, then, without warning, knock down the gutds of the structure, safe in the knowledge that even if anyone bothers to report it to the relevant authority, in this case, Dublin City Council ,  they probably will do absolutely NOTHING about it.

Stefan Hyde is a founding partner of Maurice Johnson and Partners, Fire Engineers and Access Consultants. His company biography boasts that that he has been “involved” with the National Maritime College of Ireland in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork – where Paul Hyde was a board member and audit committee member, 2012-14.

Stefan, like Paul, is an accomplished yachtsman. Stefan is a previous Round Ireland Yacht race winner, All Ireland Sailing Champion, and Student Yachting World Champion.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney and Paul Hyde of course were at school in PBC Cork together,  co-owned a yacht and competed in several events as a team.  Stefan was at least as accomplished and competed at events including Sovereign’s Cup week at Kinsale.  He came third at the IRC National Championship in 2005.  The Hydes’ father, Stephen, has donated at least twice to Coveney’s election campaigns, giving €2,500 in advance of the 2007 general election. Stephen and his wife have been members of Fine Gael in Cork.  Of course no wrongdoing can be, or is,  imputed to either of the boys’ parents. So much can not be said of their sons.