3 Apr 2007

Thanks to everyone (Keith Graham in particular, who’s witty little contributions I’ve come to rely on) who passed on the story of what happened in County Wicklow a few weeks back where that poor man, Professor Harbison – who’s house I’ve never visited but I’m informed by Keith is in a very rural area, about 250 metres off the public road and barely visible - was refused planning permission to retain three windows in his kitchen and dining room because Wicklow County Council opined that the ‘proposed windows would negatively impact on the amenity and agricultural use of the adjoining field’. I hear that animal safety was one of the issues the council were concerned about. Professor Harbison’s architect, Vincent Delaney, appealed the decision on his behalf to an Bord Planala. Here’s an extract from Mr. Delaney’s submission: ‘…The grounds of the appeal can be summarised as follows: 
The windows will be 1200mm above ground level, which equates to the height of a field gate. Risk of injury to animals is unlikely.
The windows will be flush with the wall and have toughened glass. The risk of injury to animals is no greater than it would be from a wall.
Even dangerous zoo animals are housed behind toughened glass…’

I’m told the animals in question are sheep. And note that the windows are 1.2m above ground level. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found that when trying to put myself to sleep by counting sheep, I only ever succeed if I use a gate with a maximum height of 900mm because if I use a taller gate I can’t get all the sheep to jump. At about a metre, the jump rate is about fifty percent (and never includes lambs which if they don’t participate in the ‘jumping over the fence’, I can never fall asleep. I just never do.) but I’ve never once, as I lay there sleepless in my bed, managed to get a single sheep to jump a gate anywhere near 1.2m. Any time I’ve tried, I just get all frustrated and end up having to get out of bed and search the house for a sleeping pill. 

In other appeals news, the new Landsdowne Road stadium was given the go ahead by an Bord Planala last week, which to me makes perfect sense because no one ever puts themselves to sleep counting sheep taking their seats in a 45,000 all seater stadium in the middle of Ballsbridge which doesn’t even meet the minimum requirement to host some types of international sporting events and which would be far better suited for residential development.

Jesus wept.
Seriously, I don’t know if any of you were listening to how the Landsdowne Road news was reported on the radio news bulletins last week. It seemed to me that when it came to the part about the number of conditions attached to the approval, new readers pronounced the words ‘twenty two’ with an ironic inflection in their voices designed to make us think that they knew this was somehow significant/controversial. I mean to say, are radio newsrooms the only places in Ireland where no one knows that kitchen extensions all over country are routinely granted with thirty five conditions or more attached? Or, for that matter, that An Bord Planala routinely turns down applications to retain kitchen windows which, lets face it, will only ever been seen by sheep with the extraordinary athletic ability to leap 1.2m into the air and remain suspended at that altitute for sustained periods?

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