Planning matters raised in dispute at Meath hotel

An Bord Pleanala has issued its decision on three separate referral cases before it in relation to the Johnstown Estate in Enfield.

One of referrals centred on the use of 26 shipping containers, stacked two high, that were installed in close proximity to a number of privately owned lodges, and another related to the use of hoarding and advertising of Johnstown Estate, and whether the owners of the hotel required planning permission for these works.

The third referral case related to the spray painting of slogans on the privately owned lodges with slogans including 'Water Electric Gas Cut', 'Water is a Basic Human Right', and ‘Stop Harassment Now Turn Services on to Our Family Home Now Let Us Live in Peace’.

A dispute between the owners of the Johnstown Estate Hotel and Spa and the owners of six privately owned lodges on the estate has been ongoing for a number of years.

The referrals before an Bord Pleanala were in relation to planning matters only. The planning inspector noted that the purpose of the referral is not to determine the acceptability or otherwise of the works to which this referral case relates in respect of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, but rather whether or not the matter in question constitutes development, and if so, does it fall within the scope of exempted development.

Three declarations made by Meath Co Council in January 2022 under section five of the Planning and Development Act were referred to An Bord Pleanala by the hotel owner Lefgem Limited.

These included the use of hoarding advertising Johnstown Estate which the hotel contended was exempted development and therefore did not require planning permission. It was also contended that the sea shipping containers were exempted development as they were being used for the maintenance, repair and renewal works its lodges on Johnstown Estate.

A declaration by Meath Co Council in relation to slogans painted on privately owned lodges was also referred by the hotel owners, who contended that it was not exempted development and required planning.

An Bord Pleanala upheld Meath Co Council's declaration that the use of 26 shipping containers and advertising hoarding placed in close proximity to six privately owned lodges on the Johnstown House Estate constitutes development and is not exempted development.

The referral in relation to the painting of the privately owned lodges in bright colours with slogans was deemed to be development and not exempted development by the planning inspector. The specific question in the referral was “Whether the devaluation and vandalism of Properties at Lodge no' 435, 432, 416, 426, 427 & 424 at The Johnstown House Estate is or is not development or is or is not exempted development.”

Meanwhile in relation to the ruling, a spokesperson for Meath Co Council said:“While Meath Co Council does not comment on individual cases, I can confirm that the Planning department is engaging with all the relevant parties in relation to this development and the recent ruling.”