Patricia Ingle during her 1,000 day hospital stay with her parents Annette and Pat
A PARALYSED woman has been left “heartbroken” as plans to build her “dream home” in county Limerick have been refused planning permission by An Bord Pleanala.
Patricia Ingle, 28, received an award of €10.6m from the High Court in a personal injuries case, after she was left paralysed and brain damaged after contracting a rare disease.
Ms Ingle spent over 1,000 days in hospital when she suddenly fell ill in 2008, allegedly after working in a pet store in Limerick, which she had hoped would be the start of her career working with animals.
It was alleged that she 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 single objection was lodged against the plans to build a home for Ms Ingle, given her “unique and self-evident needs”, at Five Cross Road, Farnane, Murroe.
Her family said that they had examined between 50 and 60 potential sites for a purpose-built home for Ms Ingle in recent years, but this site represented the most suitable location for her.
Letters of support from the wider community in Murroe were also sent on her behalf.
The plans for a six-bedroom home for Ms Ingle and her family on a 3.7 hectare site were granted planning permission by Limerick City and County Council in November last, but appealed to An Bord Pleanala by a sole objector.
“It is just devastating news for us all and particularly Patricia after months of anticipation,” her mother Annette told the Limerick Leader.
“She loved that site, and we had all been so very hopeful, as other potential sites had fallen through. She is heartbroken and so are we for her.
“It is another cruel blow for Patricia. She has gone through an awful lot of disappointment in her life and this is the latest one in a long road.
“We were not trying to build a hotel – it’s a single storey house – and it just feels very unfair for someone who is disabled through no fault of their own,” she said.
Representatives for the family had appealed to planners that these were “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, urged planners to recognise that “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 said that she does not desire to live alone in sheltered accommodation, but in a family home, where they can support each other.
The owner of the land in Murroe had entered into a contract with Ms Ingle to sell the landholding to her – subject to her obtaining permission for a suitable dwelling.
One objector stated that the 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 stated 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.
An Bord Pleanala refused the development on the grounds that it conflicts with the Limerick County Development Plan, that the applicant “has not demonstrated that she has a genuine rural housing need”, and that the site is not capable of being drained satisfactorily.
As a result, they said the development would be “prejudicial to public health and would be contrary to proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”
Nine years on, her family said that she continues to require “a mini-industry” of health professionals for her 24-hour care.
She remains dependent on a ventilator, has to be tube fed, is in a wheelchair, and requires constant care.
Her father Pat told the Leader that she requires care 24/7, including a care nurse and a health care assistant, night and day, who could have been facilitated to stay overnight in the proposed new home for Patricia.
She has also requires speech therapy, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist and a psychologist.