White Stuff founder must tear down skate bowl built without permission

Millionaire White Stuff founder must tear down skate bowl and tennis court built without permission at his luxury waterside home after council rejects claim they were too late to object to it

  • Sean Thomas built a skate bowl, tennis court and garage without permission
  • They were built next to the millionaire’s large home in Salcombe, Devon, in 2016
  • South Hams District Council has ordered that the additions must be removed

The millionaire founder of White Stuff has been ordered to tear down a skate park and tennis court he built without permission at his luxury waterside home after a council rejected claims they were too late to object to it.   

South Hams District Council in Devon told White Stuff founder Sean Thomas that he still had to demolish the additions to his luxury waterside home.

Mr Thomas had tried to claim a tennis court, substantial garage and skate bowl he built next to his home near Salcombe without planning permission in 2016 could remain, as there had been no enforcement action had been taken in four years.  

White Stuff founder Sean Thomas has been ordered to tear down a two-storey double garage, a skate park and a tennis court (outlined in red) at his beauty spot mansion in Devon

Sean Thomas unsuccessfully argued that his tennis court, garage and skate park could stay because there had been no opposition for four years 

The council said it ‘may still legitimately enforce’ its demands. 

Since the sprawling areas were created, Mr Thomas and the local authority have been locked in a planning battle over whether the additions should stay.

Neighbours and the local council complained about the development and a retrospective application was initially rejected in 2019. 

South Hams District Council said the construction was ‘detrimental’ to the ‘highly sensitive’ local environment. 

Mr Thomas then submitted new plans, including planting more than 1,000 trees, but this was also rejected in November 2020. 

The large garage was one of three additions to Sean Thomas’ large seafront home in Devon 

The tennis courts and skate park were added to the grounds in 2016, since then two retrospective planning applications have been rejects

The issue was handed over to the council’s enforcement team to bring the land back to its former use, as an agricultural field.

Mr Thomas claimed in February that because no enforcement action had been taken in the four years after the work ended, he could keep the additions.

The council has said that the law states that the enforcement action still stands and would ‘only become immune from enforcement action’ after 10 years.

‘The council may still legitimately enforce against it as part of the breach of planning control,’ it said.  

Conservation charity the South Hams Society has previously critcised the council, saying it should have acted sooner.

A spokesperson said: ‘The council’s failure to act sends the wrong message and erodes trust in the planning process.

The house was itself built after a controversial planning application in 2011, on the site of a bungalow formerly owned by the environmentalist Tony Soper, co-founder of the BBC’s famous Natural History Unit

The issue was handed over to the council’s enforcement team to bring the land back to its former use, as an agricultural field

‘The overall impression is that the owners have no respect for either the landscape in which they are privileged to live or the law.’

The house was itself built after a controversial planning application in 2011, on the site of a bungalow formerly owned by the environmentalist Tony Soper, co-founder of the BBC’s famous Natural History Unit.

That development was finally approved in 2012 after some scaling back of the original plans.

Mr Thomas and his wife later acquired an adjoining strip of agricultural land to build the tennis court, skate park and garage, which was finished in 2016.

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