Judge says council’s approach to unauthorised building ‘baffling’ and ‘absurd’

A circuit court judge has described as ‘absurd’ and ‘baffling in the extreme’ the approach of Kerry County Council in relation to the erection of a building in east Kerry which had twice the floor space of what was granted in the planning application. Tralee courthouse Judge Tom O’Donnell made the remarks in granting an injunction that no further work be carried out on the building on the property of Jerome Browne of Scartaglin. The judge said if the council generally applied the same criteria as they had in this case they would see little difference between the Tower of Pisa and the Taj Mahal. In 2012, Jerome Browne applied for planning permission for the construction of an agricultural building on his land at Scartaglin. The court heard that what had actually been built was fifty percent higher and twice the footprint of what had been granted in the planning application. In May 2015, when the building was partly complete, Kerry County Council received a complaint from Mr Browne’s brother and next door neighbour, Maurice Browne, that the unit was unauthorised. Planning enforcement officer, Chris van Schoor, visited the site but recommended that no action or legal proceedings be taken by the local authority, a decision signed off by his senior manager in the council. Judge Tom O’Donnell suggested Kerry County Council’s position was absurd and baffling in the extreme. He said if planning was sought to build the Tower of Pisa and the Taj Mahal was actually built, Kerry County Council would say both were living quarters and the difference between them was minor. Judge O’Donnell instructed that the building need not be demolished but ordered that no further building works should be carried out save in compliance with the original planning application. He said the matter could be reviewed in six months.