Limerick woman with rare disease awarded €7.5m has dream home appealed

Architects say the site is the most suitable location for Patricia given her 'unique and self-evident needs'

Anne Sheridan


Anne Sheridan

Limerick woman with rare disease awarded €7.5m has dream home appealed

Patricia Ingle with Miriam O'Callaghan at her book launch

A LIMERICK woman who was awarded €7.5m in the High Court after contracting a rare disease which has left her paralysed has seen her plans of building her dream home appealed to An Bord Pleanala.

Patricia Ingle, 28, spent over 1,000 days in hospital when she was left paralysed and brain-damaged when she contracted an extremely rare disease, commonly known as 'parrot fever', in 2008. 

She remains dependent on a ventilator, has to be tube fed, is in a wheelchair, and requires constant care.

Ms Ingle, of Murroe, county Limerick, allegedly contracted the disease as a result of inhaling dust from the faeces of parrots suffering from chlamydia psittacosis - an airborne infection which can be transmitted from birds to humans – while working in the Petmania store on the Ennis Road in Limerick a decade ago.

Those acting on behalf of the family said that between 50 and 60 potential sites for a purpose-built home have been examined in recent years - since she received the 2011 settlement - but this site represents the most suitable location for Patricia given her "unique and self-evident needs."

Plans for a six-bedroom home for Ms Ingle and her family on a 3.7 hectare site at Five Cross Road, Farnane, Murroe, were recently granted planning permission by Limerick City and County Council, but have been appealed to An Bord Pleanala by a sole objector.

Her father Pat Ingle previously outlined that upon her release from hospital Patricia had three wishes - to write a book about her journey to recovery, to have a party and to build a house. She has now fulfilled two of those wishes, after her book, entitled I am Free, and written with the help of a ghostwriter, was launched by broadcaster Miriam O'Callaghan last year.

Now, representatives for the family are appealing to the planning authority that “these are truly extraordinary circumstances”, and that if passed, this development could positively contribute to her long-term health and well-being.

Cork-based CBA Architecture, on behalf of Ms Ingle, stated to the planning office: “Patricia’s home will be her most important asset. Patricia will spend more time in her home than the average person and this is one of the reasons why this site is suitable for Patricia.

“It has been advised by medical professionals that Patricia will benefit greatly from this [proposed home] psychologically and this may have a positive knock-on affect physically. We have analysed Patricia’s existing home and the site is not capable of supporting her needs moving forward.

“We accept that under normal circumstances one off housing in the countryside has to be discouraged, but we can’t emphasise enough that these are truly extraordinary circumstances.

“Unfortunately our planning policies do not appear to support situations such as Patricia’s, which are difficult to anticipate and do not comply with the usual requirements. A house catering to her special needs is not catered for in a rural context by any development,” stated the architects.

They outlined that it is Patricia's wish to keep dogs at her proposed new home, which "are widely recognised for people with disabilities or in need of a particular type of assistance". 

“Patricia does not require or desire to live alone in sheltered accommodation. It is the desire of her and her family that they share a family home supporting each other.

“This is a particular case of a housing need that cannot be accommodated in a town centre and therefore must be acknowledged as a genuine housing need. As the needs and issues are very specific there should be no concern that a precedent would be created,” they state.

“We believe given her unique circumstances that this justifies the applicant’s housing need.” 

They outlined that while Patricia is cared for by her parents, Pat and Annette, and her sisters, there are also two nurses and a carer required for her care, some of whom stay overnight depending on her condition on any given day.

They also argue that the proposed development “could not be considered as contributing to urban sprawl as it is well outside the village, on a large site, without any houses adjacent.”

The owner of the land in Murroe has entered into a contract with Ms Ingle to sell the landholding to her – subject to her obtaining permission for a suitable dwelling.

An Bord Pleanala is due to make a decision on the case by April 28 next. 

The objector states that the current proposed development is in the same field previously found to be unsuitable for housing on two separate occasions by An Bord Pleanala, in February 2000 and in August 2001. 

The objector also states in her documentation submitted that there was inadequate site notice, that the planning authority failed to notify her that significant new information and revised plans had been submitted, that urban sprawl should be prevented, and that the site is unsuitable for the proposed development.