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Resident sought €50,000 to withdraw objection to south Dublin housing development

South Dublin homeowner proposed dropping objection to expanded apartment scheme for €50,000 ‘consultancy’ fee payment

A local resident sought a payment of €50,000 in “consultancy” fees from a developer in exchange for withdrawing a planning objection to the expansion of a new apartment development in south Dublin.

Red Rock Developments is seeking to add an extra floor to a 77-apartment development at Elmpark Green on Merrion Road. The developer sought planning permission last November to expand the nine-storey development, which is finished, to add a 10th storey comprising two penthouse apartments.

Correspondence seen by The Irish Times shows a homeowner living beside the site proposed dropping an objection they had lodged against the plans, in exchange for €50,000, before later increasing their demand for compensation to €100,000.

Patrick Sheeran (75), a former chartered surveyor living on Bellevue Park Avenue, initially said he would withdraw his objection to the planning application in exchange for €50,000 and other terms.

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In a December 20th, 2023 letter, Mr Sheeran said the payment would cover fees for “extensive work” he had carried out examining the project, on behalf of a local residents’ association.

In his letter to Keith Craddock, head of Red Rock Developments, he said he also required commitments that the developer provide a sports field on the site for children to play.

On receipt of payment he said he would withdraw his planning objection to Dublin City Council (DCC), concluding his “past, present and future involvement of any kind whatsoever in the matter of Elmpark Green, in perpetuity”.

Documents show the residents’ association was offered a financial contribution towards “legal and planning expenses” it had incurred, provided it did not object to the revised plans.

Following this, Mr Sheeran wrote to the developer, seeking payment to cover fees for work he said he had carried out for the association on the planning application, before he stepped back from the group.

Lawyers for Red Rock Developments initially told Mr Sheeran he had not provided services to the developer and his request was an “abuse” of the planning process.

However, in a January 19th letter, lawyers said the developer could offer €15,000, if he withdrew his objection to the extra floor. Later that month Mr Sheeran agreed to withdraw his objection in exchange for €20,000. The local authority granted planning permission for the extra storey several days later.

In a February 9th letter, Mr Sheeran said the developer had failed to pay the agreed “token compensation”. He said he was now seeking a “full and final settlement” of €100,000, or he would appeal the approval to An Bord Pleanála (ABP).

The payment would be compensation for the apartment block devaluing his property and cutting off light to his back garden, he said. While the originally agreed €20,000 fee was paid several days later, when a further €80,000 was not received, Mr Sheeran submitted an appeal to ABP.

Mr Sheeran told The Irish Times he had not sought “go-away money” from the developer to drop his planning objection.

His “top priority” had been to secure a commitment for a sports field for children to play on: “If there’s a sports field and no 10th floor, that’s a win for me; I don’t need the money, it’s not about money,” he said.

“I have told them how much I want in full and final settlement; if they pay me that, then I don’t have a claim and it follows that I withdraw from the process and I withdraw the submission,” he said.

“That’s it, quid pro quo.”

A spokeswoman for Red Rock Developments said the company “cannot comment on this matter at this time”.

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