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The structure is built largely out of timber with some steel elements. Anthea Lacchia
magheramore beach

Wicklow council probed ‘film set’ house structure at beauty spot on hospitality mogul’s land

The landowner – a company owned by Paddy McKillen Jr of Press Up – said no planning permission was needed for ‘temporary’ structure.

A LARGE FILM set resembling an elaborate house, currently under construction on a headland overlooking one of Wicklow’s most popular beaches, has been investigated for not having planning permission.

Wicklow County Council undertook a planning enforcement probe after receiving written complaints from members of the public about the striking structure at Magheramore, which is being built on land owned by hospitality magnate Paddy McKillen Jr.

McKillen’s Oakmount property firm bought the land in a highly competitive auction last June.

The building is constructed largely out of timber and bolstered with steel beams. Its appearance and scale had led some local residents to be concerned that it would be a permanent dwelling, even though there was no planning application for the structure lodged with the relevant authority.

However, the county council and the landowners have confirmed that it is a temporary film set. Two construction professionals also independently told The Journal that the structure appeared to be a temporary, though costly, construction.

The beach is part of a large Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and as the building sits just outside this area, and could therefore have an impact on it, European Union law dictates that Wicklow County Council must be satisfied that the structure won’t negatively affect the SAC.

Magheramore has been a popular filming location for several years, appearing in a range of TV shows including Vikings, Camelot, Redwater and Amy Huberman’s Finding Joy.

Mag-5 The building overlooks the hugely popular Magheramore beach in Co Wicklow. Anthea Lacchia Anthea Lacchia

It’s also a highly regarded surfing location and is hugely popular with families. In recent years, it’s been the scene of the annual “Dip in the Nip” charity drive which has raised hundreds of thousands of euro for cancer research.

Auction

The structure sits on a 21-acre parcel of land that envelopes the beach that was sold for more than three times its asking price in a high-profile auction last summer.

The land was listed with a guide price of €210,000 but, after a lively bidding war, it was eventually sold to McKillen’s Oakmount for €700,000, with Wicklow County Council itself among the unsuccessful bidders.

The sale of the land prompted fears among beach users that access to the shorefront would be cut off, but that has not materialised in the year since the auction. Oakmount told The Journal this week that there are no plans to restrict public access to the beach in any way.

Magheramore-Pin Red outline shows the plot of land sold for €700,000 last summer. Pin indicates location of film set. BidX1 BidX1

Press Up

Oakmount is the sister property company of Press Up hospitality group, owned by Paddy McKillen Jr (son of developer Paddy McKillen) and Matt Ryan.

Press Up operates an extensive range of bars, restaurants and hotels across Ireland including the Captain Americas, Wowburger and Elephant & Castle restaurant chains, The Workman’s Club and Clarence Hotel in Dublin’s Temple Bar, and the Dean hotels in Dublin, Cork and Galway.

Oakmount owns an array of landmark properties including Clery’s Quarter on Dublin’s O’Connell Street, The Dean on Harcourt Street in Dublin 2, the Stella Cinema in Rathmines, 55 Percy Place in Ballsbridge and Glasson Lakehouse in Athlone.

No planning applications have been submitted for the plot of land at Magheramore since Oakmount secured the property.

Warning letter

Wicklow County Council said it launched an enforcement file to investigate alleged unauthorised development after receiving written complaints about a structure resembling a “dormer-style dwelling house” close to Magheramore beach.

Its probe established that the building is a temporary film set being built by a film production company. “The Planning Authority has had positive engagements with that company under this file,” it said in a statement to The Journal.

The county council is now preparing a planning officer report. When the report is completed it will issue correspondence outlining the steps it took under planning legislation, which can include enforcement and warning letters.

The legislation outlines that local authorities issue warning letters for unauthorised development unless the development in question is of a “trivial or minor nature”.

A public relations professional, who handles media and communications for Wicklow County Council, was unable to confirm to The Journal whether the county council had sent a warning letter regarding the structure.

Mag-3 Construction professionals said the building appeared to be a temporary, though costly, structure. Anthea Lacchia Anthea Lacchia

A spokesperson for Oakmount said the large building didn’t need planning permission as it is a temporary structure.

“The film company have been in contact with Wicklow Co. Co. to address any concerns raised. WCC [Wicklow County Council] have confirmed to them that they are fully satisfied the enforcement matter is now closed.”

National Parks and Wildlife Service

The structure was also reported to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and an officer from that body visited the site. It concluded that the structure is covered by the Planning and Development Act and is therefore a matter for the local authority, Wicklow County Council.

A spokesperson for the NPWS said it had brought the matter to the attention of Wicklow County Council.

“Issues relating to the Planning and Development Act it is a matter for the local Authority. In such cases they must satisfy themselves as the competent authority that the structure and associated activities on site in question will not significantly impact on the SAC (special area of conservation),” the NPWS said in a statement.

Despite the assurances from the county council and the landowner, local residents say concerns remain about access to the beach and the permanency of the building.

One local resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It is the community’s fervent hope that Wicklow County Council follow through on their obligations and ensure that this building is completely removed at the conclusion of the film shoot.

“The enjoyment of this important natural amenity by local residents and thousands of Dubliners will otherwise be imperilled.”

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