High Society


Claremont Road

Claremont Road

A “STUNNING beachfront house hovering over the water in Howth” has attracted a lot of attention over the last week. The unusual structure was the subject of a protracted planning process, which ended up proving more expensive than expected by its owner.

The Lake House is the property of retired HSE heavy-hitter Dr Susan O’Reilly, who came in for some harsh criticism a few years back when a report of hers emerged recommending the winding down of services in Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise. She also had to deal with critics when building her house in north Howth.

The super-modern structure, which “hovers over the water like an apparition” and is known as the Lake House, replaced an old bungalow that had been built on the site at Claremont Road, backing onto Burrow beach. O’Reilly swooped in to pick up the unremarkable structure at auction back in 2011 with a view to demolishing the dilapidated house and replacing it with something rather more striking.

The sailing-mad O’Reilly is originally from Wales and studied at Trinity College Dublin before moving to Canada to specialise in medical oncology. She returned to Ireland in 2011 when she was unveiled as the new director of the HSE National Cancer Control Programme.

Along with the big job, O’Reilly took on a challenging personal project as she sought to secure planning permission for her futuristic house. The application to demolish the existing four-bedroom property and its replacement with a new 2,800 sq ft two-storey split-level structure with a balcony was lodged in May 2012.

It immediately attracted the attention of neighbours, with letters of objection received from residents of Corrbridge Terrace, which focused primarily on the balcony on the western side.

One of the submissions, from Brendan and Debbie O’Connor via PMK Architects, criticised the scale of the proposed new dwelling as well as the overlooking potential of the balcony/terrace.
The objection described the new development as representing “a gigantic increase in scale for the site”.

Happily for O’Reilly, Fingal County Council planners greenlighted the striking project, although a condition was that various windows were to be fitted with obscure glass. Of more significance to the applicant was condition No 16, which included the payment of an “unreasonable” €35,200 as a contribution towards the council’s infrastructure costs.

This matter duly ended up before An Bord Pleanála (ABP) as a result of both first- and third-party appeals, with ABP confirming the grant of permission for the house, including the contentious balcony.

Not such good news for O’Reilly, however, was that not only was the council’s levy not reduced to €9,400, as suggested by planning consultants Marston, but the figure was actually upped to €36,750.


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