Newbridge locals appeal planning for ‘monstrous trophy home’ in town centre

Harris Group chief executive Denise Harris wants to build an 11,000 square foot Italianate mansion beside the Liffey Linear Park

Aerial shot of the site at Newbridge, Co Kildare, where Denise Harris is building an 11,000-square foot Italianate mansion

A plan to build a controversial mansion planned for the centre of Newbridge, which has been described as a “monstrous trophy home” which has “wronged” the people of the town, has been appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

The house at the centre of the opposition is an 11,000-square foot Italianate mansion being built by Denise Harris, the chief executive of the Harris Group trucking business, who currently lives in Monte Giuseppe, Sorrento Road, Dalkey.

Harris, who took over the running of the company from her husband, the late Robert ‘Pino’ Harris, applied to the council in August of last year to build a two-storey detached house on a plot of land beside the Liffey Linear park, which sits on a bend in the river in the middle of the town.

The development will consist of the house, extensive landscaping including several ponds, and a gate lodge close to the entrance of the site.

The architectural design statement included with the planning application noted that the opportunity to build a house in such a setting was “remarkable and rare”. It said that the development would “provide an authentic, classical, Italianate house set in beautifully landscaped gardens which will be a significant addition to the built environment of Newbridge.”

The plans have the subject of major opposition locally, in part because it also emerged in the planning process that Harris’s ownership of the site included a footpath that has for a number of years been considered part of the public park.

Harris offered, as part of her application, to transfer that land to the council’s ownership as part of a condition for the planning, which was granted in July of this year.

The granting of planning permission has now been appealed to An Bord Pleanála by several objectors, including local councillor Rob Power of Fianna Fáil, who in his submission said: “I believe the community of Newbridge have been wronged in the granting of permission on this key site adjoining the Liffey Linear park in the town.”

"It is debatable whether this application constitutes the largest single dwelling ever proposed to Kildare County Council,“ he wrote, adding that it was “unquestionably an unsustainable development”.

A group of residents in a nearby housing estate also filed a submission, arguing that the grant of permission was “a grave error” and that such a large “trophy home”, which it described as “monstrous” was “not appropriate for this area”.

The case is due to be decided by An Bord Pleanála by December 12.