The High Court has ordered that a couple must demolish their two-storey home, which was built without planning permission.

Meath County Council sought the demolition order against Michael and Rose Murray after they were refused permission by An Bord Pleanála to retain the house at Faughan Hill, Bohermeen near Navan.

The 6,229sq.ft house (588sq.m) is more than twice the size of a previous planning application submitted by the couple for which permission was refused.

The couple, who have three children, had been refused planning permission for a number of different sites and Mr Murray gave a sworn statement that he had become ‘totally frustrated’ with the planning process.

The house was described by Mr Justice Edwards as a very large and imposing stone clad two-storey dwelling with a curved drive sweeping up to it and extensive lawns in front.

He said he was ordering its demolition with ‘very great regret’.

He said this was not a case of a minor infraction or of accidental non-compliance or of non-compliance with some technicality, but was a flagrant breach of the planning laws and completely unjustified.

He said Mr and Mrs Murray had sought to 'drive a coach and four' through the planning laws and that could not be permitted no matter how frustrated they may have felt.

Mr Justice Edwards said it would undoubtedly constitute an enormous hardship to the Murrays to have to demolish their house, particularly in circumstances where Mr Murray, a plumber, was now a victim of the downturn in the construction industry and had little work.

He said nevertheless the law must be upheld and they had brought this on themselves.

The judge said he was prepared on a humanitarian basis to put a stay on the demolition order of 24 months.